All posts by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

Why is BBC Wales reporting terror of English county lines gangs in Scotland but BBC Scotland is not?

From BBC Wales yesterday:

Police forces across north Wales, Merseyside and Scotland have launched a series of dawn raids targeting “county lines” drugs gangs. Searches were carried out at 24 properties at 07:15 BST in Flintshire, Conwy, and Anglesey in north Wales, and in Liverpool and Scotland. North Wales Police said more than 300 officers from three forces have taken part in the operation.

Police Scotland reported the problem as early as January 2019:

The charity Crime-stoppers is today 14th January 2019 launching a campaign to highlight the pain and suffering that criminals from English cities are inflicting on vulnerable people in Scotland’s rural and coastal towns. The campaign aims to raise awareness of County Lines, which is when criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham are expanding their drug networks to other areas, bringing with it serious criminal behaviour such as violence, exploitation and abuse. The term County Lines refers to the use of a single telephone number to order drugs, operated from outside the local area. This is having a massive impact on rural communities and also on vulnerable children and adults who are being recruited in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.

Only the Sunday Post reported this at the time though the Times newspaper had a story of arrests in the previous October:

So, a Police Scotland announcement and clearly some media aware of it. Why have BBC Scotland not considered it in the public interest when it sounds eminently so? Are they worried it would seem anti-English?

Suicide rate in Scotland NOT highest in UK and is falling!

Sometimes I think, even with my modest understanding of statistics, responding to Scottish journalists’ efforts is like shooting fish in a barrel.

In the Scotsman yesterday we see the confident assertion that Scotland has the highest suicide rate in the UK. First, Northern Ireland has a notably higher rate than Scotland. It’s called ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’ Second, Scotland did have a higher suicide rate than England, in 2018, but the more important facts are that there is a notable downward trend here over a more meaningful period of time and the one-year change can be explained, whereas as the rate of change is static in England.

Here are the Scottish figures:

The one-year increase in 2018 is not, as any O-Grade, Standard Grade or National 4 mathematics pupil will tell you, evidence of a trend. It is probably related to the drugs epidemic triggered by Thatcherite economic policies in the 1980s. Much of the 2018 increase may well be attributable to the spike in drug-related deaths among older users, the Trainspotting Generation, who are now reaching the end of their shortened life expectancies together. This may go on for a year or two until this tragic group have all expired.

Also, the trend is downward. Using proper statistical methods to detect a trend, even if you include the 2018 spike in a set for 2015-2018, the average is 14.75 compared with 16.75 for the previous 4 years from 2011 to 2014.

Here are the data for Northern Ireland:

There is, here, clear evidence of an upward trend.

Here are the data for England:

The rate is clearly lower than in Scotland but is static and not improving.

Jeanne Freeman demolishes Miles Briggs by revealing that NHS England is short of 25 times as many beds as NHS Scotland is

 (Image: Ken Jack – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

In the Scottish Parliament this week, Miles Briggs (Lothian) (SCAUP) asked the Scottish Government what its response is to the estimate by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine that 200 more hospital beds are required in Scotland. (S5W-24570)

Jeanne Freeman:

We note the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) have used a bed occupancy of 85% to estimate that NHS Scotland needs an additional 200 beds. For context, that is 1.5% of NHS Scotland’s acute bed base; RCEM also estimate that in England an additional 5,065 beds are needed – 5.0% of the general & acute bed base.

I understand that the 85% bed occupancy originates from research carried out around 20 years ago. There have been significant changes to the NHS and the way care is delivered since then, including the four-hour A&E standard, ambulatory care, and same day surgery. We recognise that bed occupancy should be monitored as part of hospital bed planning. The latest published statistics show acute specialty bed occupancy in Scotland was at 87.7%, 86.9%, 85.9% and 86.7% in the last four years.

Click to access WA20190902.pdf

Miles worse?

UK-obsessed Scottish Lib Dems want us to copy a third Westminster policy to do something we are already doing better ourselves.

Nicola really is a witch! She put a curse on me and Alex and now we can’t think of anything original.

This week Alex Cole-Hamilton asked the Scottish Government, in light of the introduction of a UK Government Bill to restrict the serving of foods high in fat, salt or sugar in schools by 2022, whether it has considered introducing a similar target. (S5W-24823)

John Swinney:

Our school meal uptake is higher now than when current Scottish school food regulations were first introduced in 2008 and we are leading the way by becoming the first part of the UK to set a maximum amount of sugar and processed red meat that can be made available during the course of the school day. The current regulations already include strict upper limits in relation to sugar and school caterers must plan their menus in a manner which prevents children and young people from consuming excessive amounts of sugar, fat, or salt over the course of the school week. We will be amending the regulations further to make school meals even healthier and more closely aligned with the Scottish Dietary Goals. The improvements to school food and drink are a key part of our commitment to strengthening children and young people’s healthy eating habits and halving childhood obesity by 2030.

Click to access WA20190904.pdf

So that’s clear. The SNP Government is on this and ahead of the game in England but thanks Alex, for nothing.

Previously, on August 29th, Alex Cole-Hamilton asked the Scottish Government whether it plans to introduce the National Child Measurement Programme in Scotland, which was introduced in England in 2005, in order to tackle childhood obesity? Of course, he was well behind the curve. See this from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reported in the Independent on 26th May 2018:

‘Under current trends it is predicted that 11 per cent of the population in Wales will be morbidly obese in 2035, roughly 340,000 adults, while Scotland is likely to plateau at about 5 per cent and England will rise to about 8 per cent.’

The researchers offered a surprisingly clear, confident and simple explanation for the significantly slower growth in Scotland – Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation:

‘The government put a massive push on developing a route map for how we can actually combat this. They put together resources from the NHS that were proving to be effective. They did put a lot of work into it.’

And as recently as March 2019, Tavish Scott suggested we copy another FAILED English scheme on student teacher recruitment. How good is the English system? It’s not good at all. They missed all their targets and entrant numbers fell by 500.

They just love the idea that wee Scotland might benefit from better ideas coming across the border but they’re always out of touch and wrong.

11 years after SNP replaced Labour outsourcing folly on hospital catering, food-related disease outbreaks wiped out

This week Labour’s Monica Lennon asked the Scottish Government how much each NHS board pays to private contractors for hospital catering services. (S5W-24708). Jeanne Freeman’s response in a table showed that around 11 million was outsourced. I was reminded then of how Labour had started all this and the SNP had begun to put a stop to it in 2008:

The Scottish Government today banned private contractors from tendering for catering and cleaning deals at NHS hospitals with immediate effect. In a guidance note to Scotland’s 14 health authorities, John Matheson, director of health finance at the Health Finance Directorate, stated that cleaning and catering played a key role in the delivery of clinical services in the NHS in Scotland. Existing contracts for the provision of services are not affected by this guidance. Last year Scotland spent £46m on catering at its 64 general hospitals, although this figure includes both public and private caterers. 

Most important however was this intention in 2008:

The [SNP] secretary claims bringing catering and soft service in house are the only effective way to eradicate super-bugs, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile from Scotland’s hospitals.

Then in June 2019, Labour’s Lennon asked how many hospital-acquired infections have been connected to food products. The SNP Health Secretary was able to reply that there had been NO hospital-related foodborne outbreaks in the past five years.

Click to access WA20190619.pdf

So, 11 years after the SNP began to replace Labour privatisation folly on hospital catering, where they legally could do so, food-related disease outbreaks have been wiped out.

Scotrail offers UK’s most crime-free experience by some way!

Crime is falling on only one UK railway network – D Division! What, is that Scotland? It is:

While British Transport Police record crimes across 12 different categories, travellers will also be please to see that violence against the person and sexual offences are falling in Scotland in line with a wider reduction of crime across the country in the last 10 or more years:

Why is Scotland not mentioned in the table?

And, crime was already much lower on D Division Scotland’s trains. England has 10 times the population so all things being equal might be expected to have 10 times the crime on its railways. Scotland had 1668 crimes in 2018/19 so England on that basis would have 16 680. From the data here, it had 65 099! The rate of crime on England’s railway system is 4 times higher than in Scotland.

How BBC UK saw the report from the BTP:

But hey the Herald only 18 minutes after we posted!

STV beats us by 20 minutes. Some young person on speed?

Are there fewer crime assaults against NHS Scotland staff because they’re more effective and better staffed?

In the Guardian yesterday:

In the latest available annual NHS staff survey, from last year, 14.5% of staff said they had experienced physical violence from patients, their relatives or the public. But the trade union, Unison, believes many incidents are going unreported. Its research with the Health Service Journal, based on freedom of information requests from all NHS trusts in England in 2016-17, found physical assaults on NHS hospital staff had risen 9.7% since 2015-16. The figures suggested that, on average, there were just over 200 reported violent attacks on NHS workers every day.

The situation in NHS Scotland is significantly different:

Convictions for violence and/or aggression toward NHS Scotland staff have fallen from 301 in 2008/9 to 190 in 2017/18, a fall of 37% in 9 years. NHS Scotland has 160 000 staff, so convictions are at 0.11875%.

Click to access WA20190726.pdf

There has been a particularly welcomed and dramatic fall, 35% in only 5 years, in attacks on emergency workers, again in line with overall crime reduction in Scotland after more than a decade of SNP-rule. See:

Why? Perceptions of inequality are strongly associated with problems such as violent crime. Has the SG government, within the UK straight-jacket, had some effect on reducing a commonly shared sense of inequality? See this for more:

Click to access SpiritLevel-jpg_0.pdf

More likely? NHS Scotland is just more effective with fewer delays and more staff. That must surely mean fewer situations where perhaps some scared patient tries the only thing they know to get attention?

Support for independence too close to call averaging 50% WITHOUT 16/17-year-olds in three polls now

The Lord Ashcroft poll on 30 July – 2 August 2019 put support for independence at 52%.

Two YouGov polls in April 2019 and yesterday both put support at 49%.

These three, averaging at exactly 50%, coming after YouGov polls in 2017 and 2018 consistently putting support at 44% and without predominantly independence supporting 16 and 17 year-olds, suggest a real trend and one that puts the Union in serious jeopardy.

Scotsman journalism in crisis as NHS vacancies are distorted and presented out of context

I know, I’m repeating myself but the above witless headline is causing angry reflux so, for the second time today:

Vacancies are normal. The question is, is the system strong enough to cope with them? See:

SHOCK Scotland has far more staff including consultants and GPs per head of population

As Tory-run NHS England loses staff in record numbers, SNP-run NHS Scotland is in surplus for sixth year in a row

NHS Scotland has many fewer operations cancelled due to staffing or resources capacity

New fun for researcher as qualified doctor staffing is up almost 20% under SNP!

Already better-staffed NHS Scotland doctor training meeting recruitment targets

As NHS England is pulled into ethnic nationalist self-destruction why there is no Scottish crisis in nurse staffing

Scotland’s nursing and midwifery staffing and student recruitment are Miles better!

10% of the population yet 13.2% of the paediatricians: why the health of Scotland’s children is NOT being put at risk by staff shortages 

Scotland has 10% of the population but 17% of the health visitors and fewer post-natal deaths after SNP government increases staffing by 25%

Stunning 91% achievement by NHS Scotland A&E, 12% better than NHS England

Despite attendances climbing by 16% from February 2019, NHS Scotland Accident and Emergency departments have maintained performance at 91.2% seen within 4 hours throughout July 2019.

In NHS England, type 1 departments (comparable to NHS Scotland units) only 78.9% were seen within the target time of 4 hours.