BBC Wales’ editors CHOOSE to have ZERO politicisation of waiting times

Nearly 1 000 words but no mention of Health Secretary for Wales:


So that day has come round again, the one when NHS England publishes statistics on A&E waiting times for the previous month. It’s the time when we can test the consistency or otherwise of the BBC’s editorial policies and the choices editors make across the nations of the UK, as exemplified by the content of its News website which is amenable to direct comparison. And yes it does get ‘tedious’ because the BBC is nothing if not consistent in its differential practices month after month after month!

We know well that BBC Scotland’s coverage of the weekly releases of A&E waiting times in Scotland is highly politicised – news articles appear on the website’s politics as well as its main sections for Scotland. We know that much space is given over to quotes from all opposition parties in Holyrood – given proactively to or requested by the BBC we can’t tell. And there has been a clear message amplified by BBC Scotland – it’s all the Scottish Government’s fault and the Cabinet Secretary for Health should resign immediately.

The coverage of A&E performance in Scotland focuses on waiting times for the MAIN A&E departments (equivalent to Type 1 departments in England) and not for ALL A&E departments. Recently there has been a trend towards highlighting individual health boards or individual hospitals where performance against the 4 hour standard is substantially lower than the national average. A more impactful, negative message?

For NHS England, the BBC does things very differently. I’ll use the statistics published today (8 December) for the month of November to illustrate.

Throughout Radio 4 news bulletins today and on the BBC News website, we’ve been told some variant of ‘one in three’ patients are waiting more than four hours in A&E’. But this is what the official figures record (with my emphasis):

• ‘68.9% of patients were seen within 4 hours in ALL A&E departments this month compared to 69.3% in October 2022, 74.1% in November 2021, and 81.4% in November 2019. THIS IS THE LOWEST REPORTED PERFORMANCE SINCE the collection began. The 95% standard was last met in July 2015.’

•’ 54.5% of patients were seen within 4 hours in TYPE 1 A&E departments compared to 54.8% in October 2022, 61.9% in November 2021 and 71.3% in November 2019. THIS IS THE LOWEST REPORTED PERFORMANCE SINCE THE COLLECTION BEGAN.


The BBC News website had an article today with this headline: ”A&E is absolute chaos – I spent 15 hours on a trolley’. OK a damning headline but the article has nothing on the 54.5% performance statistic: it sticks with ‘1 in 3’. By contrast, the focus in a press statement issued by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine on these latest statistics is clear: it ONLY refers to the 54.5% figure for the main (Type 1) departments. Why does the BBC opt to use a ‘1 in 3’ statistic: why focus on ALL rather than the MAIN A&E departments instead? Less ‘negative’? (Still, at least the frequency of BBC ‘exposures’ of the state on NHS England is increasing. Now to bad to be ignored?)

There are a few other things about the BBC News website’s article referred to above. It doesn’t appear on the main ‘UK’ news page; it doesn’t appear on the main ‘England’ page; it doesn’t appear on the main ‘Politics’ page. It appears ONLY on the ‘Health’ page – and even here it has been quickly relegated from a prominent position. In the article there is ZERO politicisation: there is NO MENTION of ‘worst on record’. (Recall that BBC Scotland has in the past had a headline with ‘second worst on record’!)

Even a later article on the BBC News website entitled ‘Nurses bitten and screens smashed – life in A&E’. This has a reference to: ‘A network of regional “war rooms” has also been created’. This only appears on the ‘Health’ page and again with ZERO politicisation.

The BBC News website presently has an article on a regional (Humberside) section with this headline: ‘Hull hospitals worst in England for A&E waits, NHS figures show’.

We’re told that: ‘ In November, 58.2% of patients at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust sites waited over four hours to be admitted or discharged.’ So 41.8% were treated within the 4 hour standard.

But the official NHS England performance statistics reveal that in November there were actually 10 hospital trusts with an even worse performance against the 4 hour standard. These ranged from 29.8% (Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust) to 41.1% (The Shrewsbury And Telford Hospital NHS Trust). Can’t trust the BBC even for accuracy?

Finally, to cement the evidence on contrasting editorial choices, the following headline also appears on the BBC News website today: ”NHS Wales: Hospital staff ‘in tears’ over A&E pressures. In contrast to the BBC’s coverage of NHS England’s A&E, the Welsh article appears on the main Wales page plus the Wales politics page. However, despite reporting on lengthy ambulance and A&E waits in Wales, BBC Wales’ editors choose to have ZERO politicisation!

Footnote: BBC Wales has a long tradition of not criticising their Labour Government. See:


6 thoughts on “BBC Wales’ editors CHOOSE to have ZERO politicisation of waiting times

  1. With BBC Scotland’s editorial line on reporting health matters I get the impression that the staff are delighted at being able to find any data that can be portrayed in a damning way. They seem to be rejoicing in the unhappiness of some people.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It appears that the the Scottish Health Secretary is the only one in the UK with responsibility for a health service, unless of course it is our First Minister, who took the brunt of Douglas Ross attacks at FMQs on Thursday regarding waiting times that the Tories had obtained through an FoI request.
    NHS Shetland were so concerned that it later issued an explanation and a table showing that waits directly due to the NHS are far less than those used by Douglas Ross.
    Published on line by Shetland News.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An estimated 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of October, NHS England said.

    Having seen this it it came to me that it is more than the population of Scotland maybe someone should mention to DRoss.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I wonder how this constant doom and gloom reporting by BBCscorchedland is received by the many people in the Health Service who will , rightly , see this type of reporting as deeply unpleasant and lacking empathy for the actual situation in which they find themselves .
    Does anyone REALLY believe that Jackie Tory Baillie or Sandy Brylcreem Gulhane could do a better job in running the Health Service ?
    I would trust Mr Bean before I would let either of these ambulance chasers near the job .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Criticising the SNHS is non productive. The SNHS saving lives everyday. Westminster unionist Gov is killing people. The BBC Westmibster Gov propaganda is illegal. People do not watch it or believe it. £5Billion for that nonsense. A serious over spend. Being cut back. Dishonourable worldwide. Westmibster Gov destroys people’s lives.


  6. In an emergency just get to medical care as quickly as possible. Do not wait. Go by car, taxi, bus, anymeans but get there as fast as possible. Time saves lives. Just get to healthcare as quickly as possible. Do not delay.


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