Stitched-up by the inadequate

To be repeated throughout the day, based on a report by Audit Scotland.

Inadequate? I’ve had to look at Audit Scotland’s so-called research many times before. More, much more below:

First, here’s a key claim:

The Scottish government was not adequately prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the public spending watchdog. The spending watchdog found that despite a number of pandemic planning exercises, not all the actions identified in these projects were fully implemented. These included measures to ensure access to enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and to quickly address social care capacity.

Here’s a counter:

UK Government decision to postpone a joint procurement process left emergency pandemic supplies “depleted” and dependent on extending expiry dates. Our investigation has found Scottish health chiefs privately questioned the move and asked whether it was driven by anything other than cost-cutting. Memos obtained by this newspaper show SNP ministers approved a business case for a £4.23 million investment in vital FFP3 respirators for the nation’s pandemic stockpile back in October 2015.

Here’s a second counter:

Pandemic response strategy was reserved until 26th March 2020. Under pressure from the UK Government, all the MSM, the opposition parties and the ‘experts’ Audit Scotland relies on, the Scottish Government followed the 4 Nations strategy informed by SAGE England. We now know that this allowed the virus to spread. The major lesson is that not being an independent nation puts you at the mercy of right-wing ideologies such as the herd immunity strategy clearly favoured then by people like Johnson, Cummings and Whitty.

Audit Scotland’s Record on Health

Starting in October 2019 and working back:

Under the online headline: NHS in Scotland could face £1.8bn ‘shortfall’ without reform, says watchdog, we read, and hear headlined on Reporting Scotland Down:

Audit Scotland’s annual report said the NHS was “seriously struggling to become financially sustainable”. Auditor General Caroline Gardner said the integration of health and social care was too slow and staff were under intense pressure.

and then:

The pressures are getting more and more severe every year. That puts a lot of pressure on people working in the health service and it also damages confidence.

In making the above claims because, as far as I can see, the ‘evidence’ for them comes only from elite interviews (anecdotes) and unreliable, tiny-sample, self-selecting surveys carried out by partisan organisations such as the royal colleges and the BMA, seeking primarily to serve their members’ interests. The grasp of research methods seems poor. Here are three earlier assessment reports on their failures:

Audit Scotland’s Nursery provision report based on flawed methodology and naïve assumptions. Tories and Labour joyful as they feast on it.

National Audit Offices bows to SNP’s superior statistics

Audit Scotland’s Limited Ability to Comment on the Scottish NHS

Audit Scotland is also inconsistent in its findings. We find Audit Scotland saying quite different things depending on the sources they have used. See:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’

National auditors find two very different NHS systems in the UK. Someone tell Theresa today.

The Auditor General strongly, with no qualifications, commends the Scottish Government on its ‘sound’ management of the economy. The lowest under-spend since devolution.

14 thoughts on “Stitched-up by the inadequate

  1. Pandemic planning is reserved to Westminster. Another massive failing, The Scottish Gov increased SNHS funding from 2015 to 2020. Mitigated it. The Westminster Gov cut it. The SNHS could handle the crisis better. The Scottish Gov handled the crisis better. There were less deaths and infection (pro rata). Clear instructions.

    If Scottish Gov had full powers there would been less deaths and infection. Westminster kills people prematurely, especially in Scotland. Westminster criminal behaviour. Kept secret under the Official Secrets Act. Vote Tory/unionist die younger.

    Iraq, Lockerbie and Dunblane illegally kept secret for 100 years. So the truth will never be allowed to come out, until the culprits are dead. Another official cover up by Westminster corruption.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Pandemic response strategy was reserved until 26th March 2020.”

    Do you have a reference for this John? Was there a Westminster decision to release these powers to the devolved nations?


      1. A useful summary John.

        Reading the summary, I note in few places there is the phrase: “The Act gives ministers, including in the devolved administrations, ..”.

        So the Act ‘gives’ what was not previously in the power of the devolved governments.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know why Boris needed to set up another department to oppose Scottish Independence. He could just have made the BBC and Media role official

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Auditor General was selected by SG.
    “Pandemic response strategy was reserved until 26th March 2020. ”
    This is not mentioned in report: they don’t make excuses. Their criticism also applies to the UK – they don’t say that either.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On19th April at England’s daily Coronavirus press briefing, in response to question from Hugh Pym BBC about declining PPE supplies in the UK, prior to the pandemic, England’s deputy CMO, Dr. Jenny Harries said “the UK has been an international exemplar in preparedness”


    1. Aye, be prepared…
      The Tory boy scouts sold off the their entire standby stock of ventilators to a south pacific country who had adopted the UK’s pandemic plan almost in entirety (where it worked).
      The Tory boy scouts put off lesson learned from Cygnus because it was money more “productively” spent elsewhere (as per Johnson’s London Fire Brigade), they could buy what they wanted when needed.

      Behold a pandemic – Trying to find or invent ventilators, trying to find PPE while worldwide demand goes through the roof, trying to find nurses and doctors to replace those who gave and resorted to being foreigners…
      The UK is “International exemplar” for the the highest death toll in the world despite their “fiddling” of the numbers, and they ain’t done yet with knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “The Scottish Government could have been better prepared to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.” So says the Audit Scotland report ‘NHS in Scotland 2020’. This phrase is given prominence in the report’s Executive Summary.

    Now IMHO – given the Scottish, UK, European and indeed global context, with diverse responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, initially and still, by nation states; with diverse scientific opinions, at the outset and still, on the features of the virus; and with public health responses globally diverse and domestically disputed, initially and still – rarely will one find a more vacuous comment in a formal, public audit report i.e. a comment emptied of or lacking meaningful content! It would have been miraculous if this or any other government could not have been better prepared!

    But it’s just a throw away line do I hear you say? Making too much of one phrase? Note that the Audit Scotland report offers no balancing, contextual comment such as e.g. ‘As is most likely the case with other governments in the UK and also across the globe, the Scottish Government could have been better prepared to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.’

    And as to the significance of inserting a vacuous phrase without qualification, one just has to look at the BBC News website’s coverage of the Audit Scotland report. Ignoring most of the report’s content (lots of it positive in terms of the SG’s response), the ‘value’ of this ‘gift’ of an unqualified phrase can be seen:

    Headline: “Covid in Scotland: Inadequate preparations for Covid, says watchdog”

    Headline: “Minsters not fully ready for Covid, says watchdog – Audit Scotland says preparations for pandemic could have been better but ..”

    And then the article repeats the claim made in Holyrood by opposition politicians: ‘Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson said Audit Scotland had set out “in black and white” that the government was “less prepared that it should have been”.’

    This Tory position could win a prize for hypocrisy given which party has been responsible for government ‘preparedness’ even with ALL the powers of the UK state.

    But then the Scottish public doesn’t get exposed much by BBC Scotland or the Scottish mainstream media to National Audit Office investigations of Westminster government performance on Covid or indeed anything else – even tho’ they all seem keen for us to stay included (albeit ill-informed) in the Union.


    1. The Audit Scotland report makes much of the financial problems facing NHS Scotland.

      For interest from a National Audit Office report:

      NAO (2020) Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. HC 366 SESSION 2019–2021 21 MAY 2020

      Para 2.5 “In addition, the (UK) government announced the write-off of £13.4 billion of NHS (England) debt from 1 April 2020 as part of a wider package of NHS reforms which aim to ensure the NHS has the necessary funding and support to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

      Debt write-off easier for a government – a currency issuer – which can call on its central bank to ease any current or future money worries?


    2. More from the NAO on UK Covid ‘preparedness’:

      NAO (2020) Department of Health & Social Care – The supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. HC 961 SESSION 2019–2021 25 NOVEMBER 2020

      ‘2 COVID-19 has had an extraordinary impact on global demand for, and supply of, PPE in 2020. Demand for PPE rocketed in England from March, when NHS and care workers, together with key workers in other industries, started to require protection from patients, colleagues and members of the public who potentially had COVID-19. There was also a surge in demand in other countries. ….. The situation was made more difficult as the guidelines for wearing PPE, and the specifications and certifications that different types of PPE must meet, are complex and were updated throughout the pandemic, in particular as understanding of the virus improved.’

      What does the above tell us about global preparedness? What does it tell us about UK preparedness?

      And this from the NAO on the Department of Health and Social Care: ‘1.8 Prior to the pandemic, the Department’s policy was that PPE was held in two separate stockpiles, although neither was intended for a coronavirus pandemic. The Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Programme (PIPP) held stocks of PPE for use in an influenza pandemic. The strategic purpose of this stockpile was to provide PPE for health and care workers in England and for the devolved administrations. It included PPE physically stored in a warehouse, plus ‘just in time’ contracts to enable Public Health England (PHE) to buy PPE in the event of a pandemic. The second stockpile was held in preparation for the UK withdrawing from the EU without a deal. Several organisations are responsible for approving, maintaining and distributing PPE from the PIPP stockpile. ‘

      ‘8 Government’s stockpiles of PPE were intended for an influenza pandemic and they were inadequate for a coronavirus pandemic. Collectively the PIPP and EU Exit stockpiles provided an estimated two weeks’ worth, or less, of most types of PPE needed by the NHS and social care during the pandemic. Furthermore, the PIPP stockpile did not include gowns which were later needed during the pandemic.’

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This has been reminiscent of the interim report into the Grenfell Tower fire, which was selectively leaked in advance of publication to point the finger of blame at the London Fire Brigade. It is inevitable that in such a tragedy that some the LFB’s actions proved to be wrong, but to try to present a more rounded and balanced view brings the media weasel-worded query, “So you condone actions which caused deaths?”.

    In this case, to put the more nuanced response regarding the location of powers for emergency planning, brings the comment: “So you are saying no one is to blame for all these care home deaths.”

    In the case of PPE no proper investigation, that I have seen, has been undertaken to examine the responsibilities of care home owners.

    Liked by 1 person

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