The BBC makes starkly different editorial choices in its news coverage for different parts of the UK. This is a phenomenon well known in Scotland to readers of TuS. As we know, one exemplar of this is the BBC’s coverage of A&E waiting times in the NHS. It’s become almost boringly repetitive to present evidence of this in relation to Scotland. So let’s look at evidence today of BBC double standards to the disadvantage of Wales.
Just published on the BBC News website’s ‘Wales’ and ‘Wales Politics’ pages is an article under this headline: ‘NHS Wales: Emergency waiting times nearly the worst ever’ .
We learn this (with my emphasis): ‘In April JUST 65.9% OF PATIENTS SPENT LESS THAN FOUR HOURS in departments like A&E from arrival until they were admitted, transferred or discharged. Although this is A SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT ON THE PREVIOUS MONTH’S FIGURE OF 65.1% – it is still the third worst monthly figure ever recorded.’ Keep in mind the ‘just’ 65.9%!
This prompted me to find out what the latest equivalent NHS England figures are and also how the BBC was reporting them. NHS England’s performance data for the month of April 2022, issued on 12 May can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/05/Statistical-commentary-April-2022.pdf .
Firstly some context given by the NHS England report: ‘Emergency admissions via type 1 A&E departments is 8.5% lower than April 2021 and 11.5% lower than April 2019.’
Then we learn that: ’59.0% of patients were seen within 4 hours in type 1 A&E departments compared to 58.7% in March 2022, 78.8% in April 2021 and 77.0% in April 2019.’
And: ‘There were 132,000 four-hour delays from decision to admit to admission this month, which compares to 48,700 in April 2021 and 66,900 in April 2019. Of these, 24,100 WERE DELAYED OVER TWELVE HOURS (from decision to admit to admission), which compares to 526 in April 2021 and 442 in April 2019. THIS IS THE HIGHEST NUMBER REPORTED SINCE THE COLLECTION BEGAN.’
(As an aside: I wonder how long these 24,100 patients were waiting in A&E BEFORE a ‘decision to admit’ them was made? I wonder how many more hours needs to be added to their over 12 hour wait in order to get the true picture of their A&E experience?)
Anyway, NHS England in April had ‘nearly the worst ever’ A&E waiting time performance AND also it had its worst ever figures for over 12 hour waits.
Given this, it’s reasonable to ask: ‘what coverage, what headlines appeared on the BBC News website to reflect this? What appeared in its ‘England’ section or in its ‘Politics’ section, even in its ‘Health’ section? There is not a great search function on the BBC News website but I did look hard -found NOTHING comparable.
The latest A&E performance statistics for NHS England are worse – arguably in some ways much worse – than those for NHS Wales but that is NOT how the BBC is choosing to report these matters.