Dated 10 February, the BBC News website has an article entitled: “Covid: Care staff vaccinations ‘lagging behind target’ ”.
This is the first sentence of the BBC article: “There is a worrying shortfall in the number of care staff to have had Covid vaccinations, a survey of almost 1,500 services in the UK suggests.”
These findings come, according to the BBC journalist, from the National Care Forum (NCF). The NCF is described by the BBC as an organisation which “represents not-for-profit care providers across the UK but mainly in England”. The Executive Director of the NCF said the survey “would appear to indicate that there are big groups of people who haven’t been anywhere near vaccination yet.” And goes on: “.. to get them done within the next five days seems like a bit of a mountain to climb.” The BBC article has this graphic.
Now we know that all Covid-related matters, including vaccinations, and especially matters that impact care homes are important – and politically, they are highly charged. So the content of the BBC article is worth getting right – is it not?
One would have hoped so! But this is what we learn from the NCF website:
“The National Care Forum (NCF) have carried out a snapshot survey of all members and the responses came from organisations representing 1500 social care services in England over the 8th and 9th February 2021.”
So not for the first time (the understatement of all time?) BBC News reporting seems to mis-inform. On what basis is the BBC article justified in implying UK-wide significance for the survey evidence?
BBC Editorial Guidelines – on ‘reporting the UK’
The BBC Guidelines refer to the following under the sub-heading, ‘Signalling’ (with my emphasis):
“When our UK audiences are affected differently by a story or issue we are reporting we should make it clear.
“We should properly and proportionately label content that has limited applicability across the UK.
“We should normally explain the difference in the first sentence of our report and in News programmes signal it in the headline as well. News Correspondents should try to refer at least once to the people actually affected by the story in their package.
“The exact method of differentiation will vary from story to story. It may be achieved by:
- simply stating to which part of the UK a story relates;
- referring briefly to how things are done in other parts of the UK
- adopting a more creative “compare and contrast” approach. For example, in a story about schools, highlighting the differences in the curriculum across the country.”
It’s hard to conceive of a bigger fail in adhering to these guidelines than the BBC’s overall reporting of Covid matters as they relate to the UK’s four nations and their individual health and social care systems.
Returning to NCF’s other concerns – Westminster’s lack transparency over care homes
In another press statement today, the NCF states this (with my emphasis):
“.. it is totally unacceptable that key COVID data collected from the sector is not being shared with the care sector. …. “
“.. although access to the (‘Capacity Tracker’) portal is available to colleagues at the DHSC, Public Health England, NHS and local authorities, despite numerous and repeated requests from provider organisations and provider representatives like the NCF, access to the reporting and analysis of the data has not been given.”
The Executive Director of the NCF notes: “We have asked repeatedly for access to the data and insights that is made available from care providers on the Capacity Tracker. From the progress on vaccination, to visiting, to numbers of positive cases and outbreaks, providers cannot see the overall national picture, nor their more local and regional picture. Apart from the very valid moral argument that the data within the Capacity Tracker is provider data and is being provided at very significant effort and cost, there are some other very strong reasons why access to the national, regional and local data is imperative to helping providers in their response in the pandemic.”
So the NCF is stating that: “providers cannot see the overall national picture” regarding Covid and care homes in England!
How much less informed is the public in England, a public that is in addition subjected to BBC mis-information/obfuscation and selective omission?