Tory Lord’s fibs on “Sturgeon’s legacy” fail to survive collision with evidence

‘Drug deaths, poor schools, a failing NHS?’

Tory Lord Simon Heffer makes the front page of the Telegraph with these claims, ironically under a report on staggering failure in NHS England’s A&E departments.

So, let’s start with the 12-hour A&E waits.

NHS England only publishes annual data on 12 hour waits in A&E. Emergency doctors in England have called for transparency on this.

NHS Scotland does them weekly and the Scottish Cons love to feast on them.

So, how do the Scottish 12 hour wait data compare with the same from NHS England? Well, thanks to Telegraph we can see:

In March 2022, 4 128 patients spent more than 12 hours in a Scottish A&E department.

England has 10 times the population so might be expected to have had 41 280 waiting for 12 hours but actually had 138 305, more than 3 times as many.

Second, A&E performance overall?

In September 2022:

69% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.

For the same month in England, the figure was 56.9%.

NHS Scotland has thus performed 21.3% better.

Remember, it’s not just 21.3%. That means thousands more seen within 4 hours in Scotland than if they’d been treated in England and hundreds of thousands more waiting more than 4 hours in England than if they’d been treated in Scotland.

In Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, a staggering only 31.8% were seen in 4 hours. The areas has 3 Labour and 1 Con MP (IDS).

Scotland’s worst performing board, Lanarkshire, saw 56.7% in 4 hours.

Third ‘failing schools’

Scotland’s ‘struggling schools’ is another of the great myths based a handful of Pisa data which Unionists will parade before viewers and readers regardless of any rebuttals, again and again.

We’ve posted so many of the rebuttals, I lose track of them but the search engine on the blog helps me dig a few back into life for you.

From March this year:

First posted on Reddit by HandeHoche (not real name):

The SNP introduced the “CfE” exams in 2015, and – as someone who’s studied papers going back to 1997 – they’re undeniably the best in terms of layout, wording, reasonable difficulty levels, accuracy of results to ability, and marking structures.

Of my five classes I’m currently sitting, two have class sizes of <15, and the others are around 20-25. Remember when that was a big issue?

My teachers are extremely supportive and I’m honestly stunned by how dedicated they are, even giving their lunch time to talk small groups or even individual students through concepts they don’t fully grasp.

My school has never had funding issues, with every student getting multiple free textbooks home and high quality facilities for practical subjects such as PE, drama, music, woodwork/engineering, and home economics.

Schools are well taken care of, and the COVID response from Heads have been clear and professional.

Mental health of students is not ignored and there are multiple support systems in place which we are encouraged to use.

When my particular school had a big health scare a few years ago, it was brought up in Hollyrood, the school grounds were thoroughly tested without impacting teaching, and students, teachers and parents were kept very well informed. The results came back in a book-sized pdf that explained how the school was safe and the small ways it wasn’t up to standard were quickly fixed.

So I ask, what the hell are they complaining about?

From last August:

First, from Glasgow’s Director of Education, Maureen McKenna, who might know a bit about this:

This is a response to all that guff about things in Scottish education being terrible. There are a lot of people painting a very negative picture. We are not saying everything is rosy but what we are saying is that there are a range of statistics out there that point to another side, that create a different narrative.

 The reduction in exclusions nationally between 2006-07 and 2018-19.

22.3% The proportion of pupils achieving five or more awards at Higher or equivalent by the end of S5. This has almost doubled since 2009-10, when the figure was 11.3 per cent

44.4% Proportion of school leavers in the most deprived areas of Scotland achieving at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18. In 2012-13 that figure stood at 34.9 per cent

62.2% Proportion of school leavers gaining at least one Higher or equivalent in 2017-18, compared to 55.8 per cent in 2012-13.

Second, some comparative figures with our so-successful neighbour:

breakdown of GCSE results issued by the Department for Education (DfE) showed the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others increased for the second year in a row. The introduction of tougher exams appears to have halted the improvement seen in previous years. Just 456 of the 143,000 pupils classed as disadvantaged by the DfE achieved top grade 9s in English and maths last summer, compared with 6,132 out of 398,000 other pupils.

Meanwhile, in Scottish schools, but never to be mentioned by Sarah Smith, the gap is closing. See:

‘94.4% of pupils had a ’positive destination’ including work, training or further study within three months of leaving school last year, official statistics show. The figures also reveal that the gap between those from the most and least deprived communities achieving a positive destination has halved since 2009/10, with an increase in positive destinations for school leavers, from both backgrounds. Over the same period there have been increases at all levels of attainment – the qualifications young people are achieving. For the first time more than 30% of pupils left school with a minimum of five passes at Higher Level or better, up from 22.2% in 2009/10. The gap between those from the most and least deprived areas achieving a pass at Higher Level or better is now at a record low, reducing for the eighth successive year.’

Getting back to the glasses, read these and order a light pink tint?

Attainment for Scotland’s school leavers far greater than in England

Attainment gap widens in England as it HALVES in Scotland, but Sarah Smith lies again

BBC Scotland and Herald mislead you as exam pass rates rise again

Why Scotland’s supposed decline in School Science performance according to Pisa is really a good sign

Standing up for Scottish education as our media parrot Tory myths

Scots more likely to enter Higher Education than those in non-Scottish parts

Growing calls to allow ‘SNP’ education policy to be implemented and for pupils to be allowed to learn

Scottish school-leavers record highest rate of positive destinations ever

Fourth, drug deaths:

STV and the Herald covered this story in September, but I seem to have missed it. BBC Scotland too, missed it.

There were 285 suspected drug deaths recorded between January and March 2022, 27% (108) lower than the same calendar quarter of 2021 (January to March 2021: 393). The rolling 12-month suspected drug
death total has declined for four consecutive quarters.

Ironically, I’d been waiting for the Police Scotland figures after reporting on a fall in suspected drugs deaths in the previous quarter from January to March 2022

There were 277 suspected drug deaths during the period April to June 2022, 16% (52) fewer than the same calendar quarter in the previous year (April to June 2021).

Scotland still has the highest drug death toll in the UK, indeed in Europe, but something dramatic is happening.

First, the NRS figure based on the presence of drugs in the bloodstream fell, by 1% in 2021, for the first time in nearly a decade while the Police Scotland figure, based of scene of death forensic evidence fell by 27%. In 2022, Police Scotland data suggest a further 22% fall in the first six months of 2022.

Notably 64%, 360 of the 562 were between 35 and 54 and only 5%, 31 of the 562, were under 25.

This has been largely explained by a natural consequence of the many older drug abusers who became addicted during the Conservative Government’s brutal de-industrialisation in the 1980s and the subsequent neglect of the New Labour period, coming together, to the end of their inevitably shortened lives. 

Fifth and finally, drug deaths among younger users are lower in Scotland

Helpful researchers at the Office for National Statistics have provided me with drug deaths data that can be directly compared with those for Scotland.

In 2021, there were 11 deaths in this group in Scotland, down from 12 in 2020.

Click to access drug-related-deaths-21-report.pdf

The figures for England & Wales are below:

Dan Beck | Parliamentary and Policy officer | UK Statistics Authority |Awdurdod Ystadegau’r Deyrnas Unedig | @UKStatsAuth| Tel: 01329 447 195 | Email: | Web:

England & Wales have 11 times the population of Scotland and so, all things being equal, could be expected to have 110 drug deaths but have 240 or 160 depending on whether you count ‘all‘ or only ‘drug misuse‘ deaths, more than twice as many or nearly 50% more.

A few days ago, the same researchers provided the data to compare death rates among the 25-34 group and those revealed a shocking 66%-higher rate in England & Wales:

Scotland’s drug deaths are frequently blamed on the Scottish Government and, in fairness then, this achievement in reducing deaths among younger users must lie at their door too.



One thought on “Tory Lord’s fibs on “Sturgeon’s legacy” fail to survive collision with evidence

  1. The Tories are masters of the deflection and distraction game.

    As was variously exposed during the pandemic, ever featured in the media was a disaster in India, China, Scotland or wherever context free, a distraction to England’s perilous condition.

    It does not matter a jot to Tories or MSM what the facts really are, for the Telegraph this is but another “Oh look, a Heffer” gambit.

    Liked by 1 person

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