The BBC’s misrepresentation of stats around England’s A&E 4 hour standard has become blatant

By stewartb

The BBC’s misrepresentation of stats around England’s A&E 4 hour standard has become blatant. Apparently – even in website articles – it’s just not feasible to go into that level of detail!!!


‘BBC News website : It is stated: ‘In September (2021) a quarter of patients who came to A&E in England waited longer than four hours for treatment.’ And we are told: ‘That is the worst performance since 2004, when the four-hour target was brought in.’

‘The authoritative NHS England source is: ‘A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions September 2021 Statistical Commentary’ ( )

‘It reports that: ’75.2% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E departments this month ..’ But the NHS England document explicitly refers this to ‘ALL A&E departments’. The same NHS source tells us this: ’64.0% of patients were seen within 4 hours in Type 1 A&E departments ..’

‘Type 1 A&E departments are the ones that most people would recognise as ‘A&E’ – like the one in the TV series Casualty’. And 64% is a lot worse than 75% is it not?

‘Why does the BBC opt to report in this incomplete manner? Candidly, under any reasonable assessment, as a public service broadcaster the BBC is opting to misrepresent the true and significant situation in what most would regard as ‘A&E’.

‘(The Radio 4 PM programme this evening has repeated multiple times the one in four, i.e. the 75%, rather than the 64% performance even though in one part of its news coverage it made reference to ‘main’ A&E sites so the existence of a distinction was clearly known.!) Is 64% just too bad to be acknowledged?

‘Bias by omission?’


‘Dear XXX

‘Thank you for contacting us about the article, “NHS in bleak position as A&E waits worsen, say doctors” by health correspondent Nick Triggle.

‘We reported that A&E waits had “sunk to their worst levels in England since the four-hour target started”, and explored how ministers and GPs had clashed over demands that practices see more patients face-to-face.

‘We said “a quarter of patients waited more than four hours for treatment in September”. I appreciate you felt this overlooked more detail involving type 1, type 2 and type 3 A&E departments.

‘There is of course no intention to misrepresent the situation, and we are free from any agenda.

‘However, we can’t always go into the level of detail that every reader might prefer. This article didn’t relate only to the statistics, but also explored responses to the government’s calls for more face-to-face GP appointments, including from Dr Richard Vautrey, of the British Medical Association, and the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery.

‘Nevertheless, I appreciate you might continue to have reservations.

‘We do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report.

‘These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly.

‘This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.

‘Thanks again for sharing your views.

‘Kind regards,


BBC Complaints Team ‘

Note ‘ we can’t always go into the level of detail that every reader might prefer.’ – even in an online article? And never mind ALL details how about just the significant ones?

Now I realise that if like me complaints are now catalysed by frustration and submitted without any expectation of achieving anything. A thought tho’ – bombard the BBC with complaints – polite, linked to the corporation’s own editorial guidelines where possible – IN ORDER (ONLY!) to share publicly the responses! Candidly something more, something ‘innovative’ needs to be devised.

( )

2 thoughts on “The BBC’s misrepresentation of stats around England’s A&E 4 hour standard has become blatant

  1. The arrogance of being the mouthpiece of an Imperial Power.

    We can lie with impunity.
    We cannot be challenged.
    We are immune from democratic oversight.
    We are the BBC.

    Liked by 3 people

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