The Ferret’s FFS checking of A&E in England and Scotland

We’ve seen before just how imbalanced and generally predisposed to undermine the SNP in government, the Ferret Fact Service (FFS) can be. If you can be bothered see:

Today, alerted by reader kelticgirl, I see they’re at it again on A&E comparisons with England – Comparing Scotland and England’s A and E performance.

First they other us this:

In an attempt to suggest a kind of equivalence, they present the data for ‘ALL’ emergency departments and tell us England is doing better. This is irrelevant. The smaller ‘elastoplast’ departments are not A&E facilities in any meaningful sense. No other media report them, other than in error or to mislead. Even the Sun and the Daily Mail ignore them knowing full well they’d be mocked for using them.

Second, the FFS conveniently does not compare longer wait times.

Released by NHS England, under pressure from the RCEM, after years of publishing data underplaying the extent of 12 hour delays in A&E, this now reveals the data from the time the patient arrives in the A&E, as opposed to time from a decision to admit as was case under old measure.:

Of all the total attendances in February 2023, 126,000 waited more than 12 hours from arrival
at A&E (10.6%)

From Public Health Scotland for the same period using the counting procedure only now used by NHS England:

4,751 (4.4%) patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.

England has 10 times the population so, all things being equal, might be expected to have had 48 000 waiting more than 12 hours. It had 126 000, nearly 3 times more.


7 thoughts on “The Ferret’s FFS checking of A&E in England and Scotland

  1. I am sure that if Mystic Meg was still amongst us, she would have been able to give much more accurate and convincing figures than the Ferret!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I generally ignore the Ferret – seems like too many articles are biased, plus they demand payment for anything other than cursory viewing. Ah well, their loss!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This seems like desperate stuff to talk down Scotland. The widely held, published professional health and social care opinion across the UK is, IMHO, that the overlong waiting times at main/Type 1 Emergency Departments is the key indication of system stress or failure.

    It is main/Type 1s that face the daily challenges of too few beds to admit in a timely fashion the most ill A&E ‘attendances’, with this in turn due, to a substantial degree, to failures in social care that cause bed blocking.

    Emergency Departments OTHER than the main/Type 1s – as they have a much smaller proportion of patients requiring hospital admission – do not experience such system challenges.

    Concerned about inappropriate comparisons being made of A&E performance across the four nations, an analysis of difference in services and associated terminology was published some years ago by the health department in NI:


    Scrolling through the spreadsheet to the definition of types of Emergency Departments in the four nations – see under ‘Further Detailed Definitions’ – this suggests that only the main/Type 1 category is directly comparable across the four nations. And as indicated above, this is also the comparison which is BY FAR the most significant: it is a key barometer of health AND social care system ‘health’! The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) seems to agree: it ALWAYS focuses on the performance of main/Type 1 departments!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I became profoundly sceptical of the Ferret when they deliberately misreported on water pollution in Scotland, which IIRC the BBC in Scotland then amplified – With a row developing in England over this very issue, the “report” was quite clearly designed as a smokescreen, the Client could be none other than HMG.

    This type of activity falls into the “Cyber troops are frequently directly linked to state agencies” domain noted in your “Who is Election Predictor and who is funding them?” article.

    HMG insists it can’t find the money to pay doctors and nurses, but have no such problems over funding disinformation…


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