Even Libby Brooks

The story just keeps getting better': reporting on Scotland for the  Guardian | Membership | The Guardian
Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The Guardian’s Scotland Correspondent , Libby Brooks has been a far better commentator on Scotland than most journalists with media based here but, sadly, in piece titled Reporting from Scotland: ‘Accurate and accessible reporting has never been more important’, she repeats an important inaccuracy, easily checked.

On Sunday she wrote:

As her most recent approval ratings testify, Nicola Sturgeon has proved herself a trusted communicator during this pandemic. Regardless, it remains critical to interrogate the substance behind that: for example, Scotland’s own record on care homes deaths, as well as the longer-term political impact, for example those who have shifted to support independence over the past six months.

https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2020/oct/14/scotland-reporting-inside-guardian-covid-sturgeon

The dominant narrative of Scotland’s apparent record on care home deaths is a myth much used by opposition parties to damn the Scottish Government’s performance but it is based on data, dubious at the time and since corrected definitively:

Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK, according to new research. A study – co-ordinated from the University of Stirling’s Management School – found that care homes in England recorded a 79 percent increase in excess deaths, compared to 66 percent in Wales, 62 percent in Scotland and 46 percent in Northern Ireland.

https://www.stir.ac.uk/news/2020/august-2020-news/care-homes-in-england-had-greatest-increase-in-excess-deaths-at-height-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/

The above research shows the care home death rate in England to have been 27% higher than in Scotland.

The Scottish rate remains, of course, too high but that was due to the 4 Nations Approach in which Public Health England experts were advising all four that it was “very unlikely” that residents would be infected, as late as 25th February.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/care-homes-told-they-were-safe-as-coronavirus-ran-rampant-2fbqpm6pd

Power to determine pandemic policy was only devolved on 26th March by which time the virus was in.

The First Minister does not do the blame game.

14 thoughts on “Even Libby Brooks”

  1. ‘Critical to interrogate the substance’, says Brooks. What on earth does she mean? ‘Interrogate’, strong word. We need one of those wordometers so that we can see the most used words referring to Nicola Sturgeon. Brooks is no friend of Scotland, another BritNat penning the usual bias even if just subtle. These story tellers need to concentrate on their own back yards where their EngGov are taking a wrecking ball to everything that is required to manage a civilised country; health, education, welfare, social care, decent employment etc. England’s pretendy lefty Graun was once a half decent paper, sadly it’s been assimilated into the right wing owned media now, Brooks has to do as she is told, write what gets passed by her editor for a wage. She should keep her nose out of Scotland’s affairs.

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    1. Never read the Gruaniad, so can’t comment on LB’s work, other than having seen her commenting on FMQ’s with Chin Chin. Always seemed balanced.
      Then the Union is at severe risk in coming election, so it’s every propagandist to the pumps.

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  2. The Guardian £1Billion in reserves begs for donations every article. The only paper of any Independence of editorial. The ConDems, Cameron and Clegg put the robocops in the smash up the newsroom. They threaten the Editor with jail, For telling the truth. The Editor was sidestepped. The Oxbridge elite have been running it into the ground ever since. No one in Scotland buys it. The reason for the totally unrepresentative articles. Just more nonsense. The Guardian has lost its way, especially about Scotland. It should be supporting better governance.

    Clegg now millionsire Facebook EU Rep. Tax evaders. Cameron siphoning off the public purse. The British Chinese consortium. Hinkley Point, HS2 corruption. Osbourne BBC? What a twisted web they weave ripping off the public.Illegal non scrutinised public contracts. Bias and corruption. Without a free and fair Press, there is no democracy. Press/Media failing miserably. They just cannot analyse figures properly. Or just print nonsense. Illegal propaganda. Bribery and corruption. Another attempted onslaught on Democracy.

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    1. Severed Carrell was good. . . . Wasn’t he?
      The organisation that dispatched him to Scotland weren’t going to send a goody two shoes journalist.

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  3. Indeed disappointing perspective when you consider the information contradicting it is in plain sight, but given the Grauniad’s principal readership is in England, why would any there check ? It’s not as if their few Scottish readers swallow the Leotard or DRoss bunkum, but in England they might.
    I suspect the order has gone out to reinforce the attack lines on Indy, principally on education and health, so England can shake its head in disbelief that Scotland has finally lost it’s marbles when walking away from Union.

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    1. The irritating thing is that they rarely allow comments on articles about Scotland. So there’s no chance to correct any misconceptions which may arise.

      The REALLY irritating thing is that half the articles don’t relate to Scotland. Some are repeats of the latest doings of the Johnson and his merry men.

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  4. This is nitpicking. So our rate wasn’t as bad as theirs? Ours was still pretty bad and no testing first. No advice on isolation necessary for incoming residents and staff caring for them.

    My mother is in a dementia home in NZ. She was moved out of her end corridor room so they had an isolation area if necessary. There was a strict separation of staff as well. In the end they had no cases but they were properly prepared for them. Private care home too, just much better regulated and informed by govt. Also Team 5 Million rhetoric.

    Scotgov plugged into WM’s ‘treat it like pandemic ‘flu’ based measures, never questioned the methodology. NZ with a relative proximity to SARS took a different line based on coronavirus preparedness. They were ready.

    Health is Devolved Scotgov could have done the same, been better prepared.

    Tell the relatives the dead that we did a bit better than England. I’m sure they will find it a comfort, not.

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    1. ‘Health is Devolved Scotgov could have done the same, been better prepared.’

      Pressurised to join the 4 Nations approach, denied full access to SAGE meetings, told the virus would not get into care homes by PHE, denied autonomy to fund furlough schemes….

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Scot. Gov. Couldn’t implement Lockdown earlier, they had to wait for Coronavirus bill to go through Westminster.

      “Tell the relatives the dead that we did a bit better than England. I’m sure tgey will find it a comfort, not.”

      That’s not what is happening here. Unionists are telling Scots that the SNP led Scottish Gov. performed worse than any other politicians in the UK regarding care home deaths. With the intention of damaging the public’s perception of the SNP. John is correcting that lie.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. “No advice on isolation necessary for incoming residents and staff caring for them.” – or so the contributor asserts.

      I am confident that alert readers of The Tusker will not simply accept this assertion without applying some critical thinking and doing some cross- checking first – in other words, use the same healthy initial scepticism of such black and white statements that we need to apply to context free/evidence free assertions in the corporate media.

      Some places to look include: ‘Clinical Guidance for Nursing Home and Residential Care Residents and COVID-19 (version 1 dated 13 March 2020 and version 2 dated 16 March).

      The opening paragraph of this document states: “This guidance provides targeted clinical advice about COVID-19 to support those working with adults in long term care such as residents of nursing home and residential care settings (care homes). It should be read in conjunction with infection control guidance developed by Health Protection Scotland (HPS) for Social or Community Care & Residential Settings.”

      In the Guidance document the term isolation’ is mentioned nine times, all relevant to the safe care care of residents. I’ll give just two instances:

      “4.1 Admissions from the community to care home facilities: HPS guidance states, prior to admissions the care home facility should:
      – source information on NHS Inform for current symptom and isolation advice, using the symptom and isolation checker
      – discuss with local senior facility healthcare staff and or a designated senior decision maker in the community prior to planned admission, including consideration of current isolation advice for that individual or the household from which they are being admitted.”

      And:

      “4.2 Admissions/transfer from hospital to care home facilities: HPS updated guidance states that if the individual is deemed clinically well and suitable for discharge from hospital, they can be admitted to the facility after:
      – appropriate clinical plan.
      – risk assessment of their facility environment and provision of advice about self
      – isolation as appropriate (See NHS Inform for details).”

      And as an instance of more general, isolation-related advice issued in March: “Residents to remain in rooms as far as possible – There is a high risk within a long term care facility that infections are spread between residents through communal areas such as lounges and dining areas. Residents should stay within their rooms as far as possible. Meals should be served in residents rooms where possible and communal sitting areas avoided.”

      And in an annex to the document there is a copy of the ‘New admission/transfer form” with assessment questions for the care home to complete:

      “In the clinical judgement of the most senior medical decision maker this person does not have new medical or infective problems. Y / N

      Residents on admission should be isolated for 7 days to ensure that they do not develop new symptoms. This isolation period can include days in hospital spent in isolation. If they have already been in protective isolation, number of days:___________”

      So let’s return to the original assertion: “”No advice on isolation necessary for incoming residents and staff caring for them.” Well seemingly not quite so clear cut!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. While I’m on the subject … may I suggest some perspective?

        A core competence of the care home industry in Scotland as in every developed country is ‘infection prevention and control’. Yes each outbreak and especially each new virus will bring their own challenges and will involve new learning but the fact remains – this is (or should be) a core competence?

        We know that inspectors from public authorities across the UK – and probably in other countries- do find shortcomings, sometimes serious ones, and they seek to ensure they are corrected (IMHO not always robustly enough here).

        It is this ‘core competence’ that results in homes winning public contracts and being able to convince families to entrust their elderly and vulnerable relatives to their care.

        So it’s not as if at the onset of Covid-19, care homes had no prior official guidance on best practice for infection prevention and control, had no prior staff expertise, and no prior learning by doing of how to manage facilities experiencing an outbreak of a infection disease. They had (or should have had) all of the aforementioned.

        Just as one example, here is a summary of infection control procedures, including isolation, provided for guidance by Health Protection Scotland dating back to 2017 albeit for another virus.

        https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/web-resources-container/guidance-on-outbreaks-of-norovirus-in-care-homes-poster/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The contributor asserts: “NZ with a relative proximity to SARS took a different line based on coronavirus preparedness. They were ready.”

        So once again let’s take a quick look at just one piece of evidence from NZ. On 24 August 2020, the New Zealand Herald published this online about NZ care homes and the response to Covid-19:

        “ Things seem to move so very slowly – it has taken four months to convince the (NZ) government that people should be wearing masks, for example.”

        And:

        “”Even now, they (i.e. the NZ government) are still not testing new admissions and making it difficult for our staff to get tested – it is taking five days. We are aged care homes with the country’s most vulnerable people.”

        And:

        “Compare the ministry’s slow progress to that of New Zealand’s Aged Care Association, he (a care home owner named Cree) says, where there was “universal acceptance” from all aged care providers that the sector as a whole had to lock down. The ministry disagreed but the country’s rest homes locked down anyway (a decision soon to be reviewed) and Cree says the difference in decision-making was clear: “At the meeting of the Aged Care Association board, it was put to the members that we lock down over the whole country. Yes. Does anyone disagree? No. Bang. Done.”

        The same article has this: “Aged care facilities were the site of most of New Zealand’s 22 virus-related deaths. The virus has also cut a fatal path through rest homes in many countries like Sweden, Belgium, Spain, the UK and the US – where 40 per cent of Covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes.”

        It seemed relevant ask: what is the likely difference between the care home experience with Covid-19 in New Zealand and that of the country’s listed above? Is it care home and related practices or is it the effects of the overall community infection and transmission?

        Given the information about on the nature (limitations?) around care home practices in NZ, it is at least arguable that – using Occam’s razor – significantly different levels of community transmission and control between NZ and the others is the key.

        Source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sponsored-stories/new-agency-to-fight-covid-19/LKFANIPXTKABIFZVWSWXSA2Z5M/

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Before she was transferred to Scotland to expand the reporting team here, beyond Mr Severin Carrell, she mentioned Scotland favourably in comparison to England on several occasions, in relation to specifically English matters and to provide some context. Sometimes these were distinctly different from the picture being painted by Mr Carrell in his pieces in the same editions.

    Since she moved to Scotland her pieces are possibly subedited by Mr Carrell to fit with the Guardian narrative on Scotland. I thought, as I read Ms Brook’s piece that the paragraphs to which you refer seemed to be of a different style of writing to what had preceded it. It seemed like a bit of ‘standard text’ which had been included.

    A few weeks ago in a piece by the somewhat smug Ms Marina Hyde, who would not know Scotland if it bit her in the arse included a sentence about Scotland, in a piece about the situation in England, which read like a cut-and-paste from a briefing given to Gaurdian journalists.

    This paper last week, in a piece about politicians in the UK who are “Up” and “Down”, included Mr D. Ross in the “Up” column and the piece was in the reverent tones which used to be given to the Baroness Colonel. No other Scottish (or, indeed, Celtic) politicians were mentioned. As happened in 2014, when the metropolitan media discovered there was some unrest amongst the Jocks, they began producing ‘ex cathedra’ pieces about why these people should know their place. Mr Will Hutton is a paradigm example.

    However, there are some, down south, who actually write properly informed and fairly sympathetic pieces, but, even these can be subjected to sub-editorial rephrasing and presentation. There are no such people in the BBC or Channel 4 News. In fact, Ms Kay Burley of Sky is often the most properly journalistic.

    Liked by 1 person

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