‘They’re telling me’ is not adequate evidence for the national news

The head [convenor] of Scotland’s doctors union says the NHS is haemorrhaging crucial staff. The BMA’s Iain Kennedy says action’s needed to keep under-pressure health service workers.

‘They’re telling me they they’re not sure if they can go on much longer.’

No doubt all day today across BBC Scotland, TV, radio and the website, we’ll be hearing the above story with not a trace of any numbers or trends in those numbers to help us decide if we can trust this trade unionist any more than say someone from the RMT or the EIS.

BBC Scotland is supposed to fact-check before platforming claims by partisan groups. The BMA, like any other trade union, works in the interests of its members.

As for the numbers. In the past, the BMA has offered us the results of badly implemented internal surveys based on self-selecting and tiny samples suggesting some crisis. This time, they don’t even have that; just ‘they’re telling me.’

It’s not good enough.

Here is some actual evidence, we’ve had here recently:

In September 2022, from the same man:

In the Herald today:

THE NHS “is crumbling and patients are being failed”, according to the new leader of the BMA in Scotland. Dr Iain Kennedy, a GP based in Inverness who took over as chair of the trade union earlier this month, said doctors are more worried now than they have ever been about a looming winter crisis.https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/22828740.new-bma-leader-says-patients-failed-staff-shortages/

GP practices collapsing?

The headcount of GPs in Scotland is 5,195. This is a rise of 74 GPs compared to last year. Prior to 2018, the headcount of GPs had remained fairly constant at around 4,900 since 2011. After 2018, the number of male GPs levelled out while the number of female GPs increased. This resulted in an increase of 209 GPs from 2018 to 2021. https://publichealthscotland.scot/publications/general-practice-gp-workforce-and-practice-list-sizes/general-practice-gp-workforce-and-practice-list-sizes-2011-2021/

They are in England:

Nearly 1.5 million patients have lost their GP in the last eight years after the closure of almost 500 practices, research has suggested.https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/08/29/almost-15m-patients-lose-gp-hundreds-practices-close/

When I searched for ‘Scotland GP practices closing‘, the above was the second hit after reports of closing for the Queen’s funeral. There’s nothing on Scottish GP practices closing to the above effect though there are now fewer but larger ones, typically.

Junior medics quitting for jobs in finance?

The FT has the story of one US ‘doctor’s assistant‘ quitting for something unspecified. In Scotland, the Record has Dr Michael Moronski going to Australia from Glasgow and BBC NE has Clinical Quality Advisor Dr Roelf Dijkuizen leaving NHS Orkney for….who knows…Glasgow?

Two out of more than 5 000 leave?

NHS Crumbling?

NHS Scotland’s workforce has reached a record high of more than 155,000 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff.

The number of doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, and support staff working across Scotland’s hospitals and in communities increased by over 7,000 in the past year alone.

Staffing  levels have now increased for ten consecutive years in NHS Scotland and have grown by over 28,500 (WTE) since 2006, meaning an extra 22.6% staff working in the health servicehttps://www.gov.scot/news/nhs-workforce-at-new-record-high/

Overall? Mince.


6 thoughts on “‘They’re telling me’ is not adequate evidence for the national news

  1. ”They’re telling me …” could that be a poll of Sandy ‘Brylcreem ‘ Gulhane which found such dissatisfaction with the Scottish NHS ?
    Maybe they/he will find it more to their taste in the nirvana that is the English NHS , which is a paradise on Earth , innit ?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What I’m not understanding is why, if we have more GPs, are our surgeries not able to cope with normal appointments? I’m not expecting everything to return to ‘normal’ right away but surely we should be able to book an appointment during the same week as we make a call, bearing in mind that people like myself have gone through a checklist before we actually call the surgery. In other words, it’s the last resort, not the first.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Aye, from the website article https://archive.ph/T4QH6, between the assertions and hyperbole of Kennedy and the by now familiar HMS James Cook framing, a figure is mentioned here –
    “Dr Kennedy, a GP in Inverness, told BBC Scotland he had seen personal testimonies from almost 200 doctors in recent weeks and said they made for “grim reading”.

    It’s all of it implication, the “testimonies” could have been written over the last decade, he may have only seen them in “recent weeks” but did he read all “almost 200” of them, was the “grim reading” due to awful handwriting or bad grammar ?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. In the world of journalism, one would expect proper attribution, evidence, named sources, honesty, independence, fairness and public accountability.

    This is BBC Scotland in particular,and Scottish media in general.

    None of these ethical considerations apply here.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Och my Lord the Scotland Office and HMS James Cook must be bricking it…
    Gone is the “NHS workers ‘dreading’ going to work, says BMA union” piece archived earlier, now morphed to “Top doctor says ‘no way’ Scottish NHS can survive”
    Are Buist and Kennedy competing to keep the prime job or is a Gong on offer from The State of a Minister for Flounce for Scotland for services rendered, but there can only be one…?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As postscript to this, note Kennedy made no mention whatever of doctors taking early retirement or quitting due to Westminster imposed changes to pension schemes.
    Perhaps that was what those “almost 200” testimonies said but that never made it to the edited version ?


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