NHS England fiddles hospital-onset Covid infection rate but still reports it at three times the rate in Scotland

in the Daily Mail yesterday:

Thousands of ‘probable’ cases of Covid caught in hospitals in NHS England have been excluded from official figures.  Health officials calculating the rate of cases in hospital settings omitted instances where patients contracted coronavirus between seven and 14 days after admission – despite the fact the virus has an incubation period of up to six days in 95 per cent of cases. This practice goes directly against official advice to staff to categorised these cases as ‘hospital onset’ infections, and allowed NHS England to claim that its ‘nosocomial rates – referring to Covid patients infected in hospital – are down to as little as 7.7 per cent.

In NHS Scotland the most recent figures, for week-ending 27th December put the definite hospital onset figure at 1.9% and the probable rate at 0.4%.


So, the rate in England of hospital-acquired Covid infection is between 3 and 4 times higher even with these fiddled figures.

Back in October, the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford put the rate at between 18% and 23%.

I contacted the researchers recently and asked for a more recent update. They said they would be updating but have not published anything newer.

BBC Scotland have not covered the story.

What this man and this woman have wrought Together can be be improved upon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon enjoys a cup of tea with Alex Salmond while on the General Election campaign trail in Inverurie in the Gordon constituency.

He took us from nowhere, by force of will, political acumen and sheer courage, to the edge of freedom. His principled stand against the UK establishment’s war agenda in the form of the Blair regime, the frankly awful human being that is Alistair Campbell and the security services, brought upon him their revenge in the form of a brutal legal process based on minor alcohol-fuelled misbehaviour against a few women. His repeated mediated humiliation by the likes of that other awful human being, Kirsty Wark, shocks in the light of her colleagues long neglect of the Jimmy Saville case, that of several other high profile BBC offenders and, of course Tory sex criminals such as the two English mayors doing time for child rape whom you won’t see a special on.

She has taken us from a near thing to a strong sense of confidence that we can do it next time. Her performance in the pandemic has been at least one major factor in the strength of support for both the SNP and for independence. Her human rights idealism may have been exploited by those same agencies which have penetrated her civil service but again, her errors, like her predecessor’s, have not weakened either the Party or the wider movement, because we are bigger than them, so much bigger.

For all his achievements, he was replaceable. She too is replaceable. We all are.

I won’t name them but there are at least 10 leading members who could lead the party onward to even greater things. That’s 10 more than any of the other parties have.

Courage mon brave!

The Thinking-Man’s Galloway: ‘If only it were so simple’

By Alasdair Galloway, the Thinking Mans’s Galloway

Earlier today, Wings triumphantly posted extracts of a piece in his newspaper, the London Evening Standard, by George Osborne, basically saying that the only “legal way to independence” is through a referendum, voted by the House of Commons, and since, for now at least, the best way not to lose this is not to approve one. Simple really. Or maybe its not.

First of all, I suspect the dogs in the street know already that when the Section 30 question is put to Johnson, assuming the SNP win a majority in the assumed Holyrood election in May, or at least there is an independence majority there, Boris is going to say “naw” (or something like that). Quoting George Osborne is pretty pointless if he isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know.

So, why ask the S30 question? Well, there is polling evidence, according to the great Curtice, to the effect that it would be bad strategy during the May election by the SNP NOT to commit to asking for a S30 Order. Basically, I suspect, a lot of the Scottish electorate would like to achieve independence in as orderly and pain free a way as possible – a rerun of 2014, with a different outcome of course – would suit them fine. But I suspect many of the same electorate know what the answer will be but feel we should ask all the same. Even if they don’t know what the answer will be, they soon will when Johnson, in that bombastic, flowery way of his, rejects the request on some grounds or other – attempting to define a generation in a way that suits him for instance. Osborne is right in many regards in this article – why would Boris want to be the UK PM who lost the UK? I mean, would you?

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Osborne has actually got more than that right, for it is arguable that the agreement of the House of Commons is necessary for a legal outcome. It may be that Joanna Cherry and her team can come up with an alternative legal means, but otherwise this might be the only game in town. One thing is certain – I doubt there is a majority of the Scottish electorate who fancy a decade or more as the sort of Kosovo of north west Europe, asserting independence that is recognised by very few of the international community. The international community is crucial in this, as what we want is not just independence, but a sovereignty that is accepted by its other members. For instance, we can kiss good bye to the EU without it. The agreement of the House of Commons is the gold standard (according to Alex Salmond, when he signed the Edinburgh Agreement) in this regard.

So, Johnson says “no”. What then? There are several other strategies that might be followed, though I suspect none of them on their own is going to achieve our aims. These would include non-violent civil disobedience (though the problem with that is that an example is going to be bracketed with the Trump troops assault on the Capitol Building), Parliamentary action on the Irish model, non-payment of taxes, perhaps an unofficial referendum. But basically, anything that keeps the heat on Westminster by making Scotland progressively ungovernable by that House.

Campbell tries to undermine this in his trademark gentle, polite way, by arguing “PS For idiots about to shout, “There’s a brilliant secret plan, Nicola just can’t say what it is before the election because you don’t show your enemy your hand!”: you can’t have a mandate for something that wasn’t in your manifesto, dumdums. Try again” Sorry Stew, but I think you place far too much emphasis on the force of manifestos.

Let’s go through it one more time, shall we? The FM, having secured a majority at Holyrood – either alone or with others – seeks a S30 Order (which was in the manifesto) as part of the SNP’s commitment to independence. The Westminster PM refuses. What then? Campbell’s view is clearly that Sturgeon’s response would be to say “oh well, ok, maybe next time”. But at the point Johnson says “No” to a request to initiate the “gold standard” process, everything changes. The S30 Order has been refused. At no time was it ever more than the means to an end. The objective hasn’t changed. Assuming the sort of polling majority for independence remains (or better still is larger) – maybe Kenny MacAskiill’s idea of voters giving their second vote to the SNP as an indication of support for independence has been implemented (though I have worries about for instance, Green Party voters who have no constituency candidate but want to support their party on the list) – the question then becomes, “ok, what’s next?”. To my mind this is an issue that really cannot be addressed from within one party acting alone. It is an issue for the entire community, and while it may be time- consuming, a “Constitutional Convention” (call it what you like) representing as much of the Scottish community as possible and all shades of independence supporting opinion must meet and decide as soon as possible what the next steps should be.

But let’s be clear, at some point engagement with London is not an option. It is a necessity. For one thing, we need them to accept our independence as much the easiest route to gaining acceptance in the international community. Sure, we can seek their support to bring London round, but, on the basis of their behaviour last time, not much of the international community is going to act against London. If there is to be an enduring settlement, then we need to bring them to negotiation. These are not options, but necessities. How we get them to this point may not be as neat and painless as in 2014. I think much of the electorate know this already, given the outpouring of nonsense from Johnson, Gove and Jack (Mundell is awfy quiet) already.

No London PM wants to be the UK PM who loses the UK (and must tell the Queen). We have to make ourselves as determined and, if necessary, as obstructive and difficult as needed, for any alternative to acceptance of Scottish independence to be the more difficult strategy

Do only 3 in 10 believe poll suggesting 7 in 10 believe First Minister should resign?

A Panelbase poll funded and scripted by Wings over Scotland suggest that 68% of Scots think that Nicola Sturgeon should resign if it is found that she lied to Parliament.

My quick twitterpoll is not intended to be taken as reliable evidence, especially given its self-selecting sample method akin to that favoured by the BMA, but in a sample of 1 250 from 5 200 following Talking-up Scotland, the lack of trust in the results of the Wings poll does seem interesting, perhaps surprising.

Like the four Survation polls for Scotland in Union, showing support for staying in the UK, this was funded and scripted, at least in part, by someone with a very strong agenda to expose alleged illegal acts by the First Minister. Surely, that raises doubts?

Let me say, at the outset, if she is found guilty of that charge, she should resign and, if that was the case, I feel sure most Scots would expect her to do so and, indeed, she would choose to do so herself.

However, commissioning this survey seems gratuitous. Given the disclaimer, ‘if she she was found to have misled Parliament’, is anyone surprised by the result of the poll? More important, is this not also likely to contaminate the case against the First Minister? Innocent until proven guilty?

I know that the previous First Minister was not treated fairly in this respect, with accusations leaked to the press by civil servants, but that does not mean that there there is anything to be gained by a campaign to condemn her before the inquiry into an alleged breach of ministerial conduct has concluded.

Infected but still strong enough to cross the line into a place where ‘a better nation’ can be formed

309 Allan Wells Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

I DO BELIEVE that the Scottish Government has been infected, penetrated, by a few individuals, more loyal to the UK and probably placed there by forces such as MI5 and the Civil Service heads. That would be a normal thing for them to do, given their task of protecting the UK.

I DO BELIEVE they have done some damage, abetted by the police and the judiciary. The attacks on Salmond, Murray and Campbell, are evidence.

I DO BELIEVE that the First Minister, in the maelstrom of her professional life and perhaps too driven by her understandable commitment to women’s rights and to the rights of other groups such as the trans community, may have been exploited by these forces to enable the attacks.

I DO BELIEVE that the SNP has been infected by careerists, placemen and activists for issues other than the burning need for independence and that this presence could weaken the drive toward the primary goal of independence.

I ACCEPT that my own undying determination to expose BBC bias goes beyond a normal, healthy, commitment, because of my treatment by them in 2014, seeking punishment by my university-employer and damaging my career. I suspect that the recent vengeful attacks on the SNP leadership and strategists, by elements within the wider movement, are driven by the same sense of hurt and the consequent self-centredness with its fondness for blinkers.

I AM CONFIDENT that the SNP and the wider movement are far too strong to be brought down by these infections. The democratic fightback within the NEC and the continuing surge in support for both the SNP and for Yes in the polls, suggest that the Party’s immune system is strong.

I DO BELIEVE there will be a referendum soon, this year or early 2022, and that we will win.

Idea of SNP agenda against Celtic causes mirth

I thought the SNP agenda was supposed to be against the Rangers? You know like this:

What’s happened? Has anything happened?

Are these all faked?

The Justice Minister

 Mr Dornan, left, and Mr Dalton in front of flag
MSP James Dornan and councillor Feargal Dalton

Steven Bonnar MP

Oh wait, is this the reason, he’s upset? First, she moans about the fans singing without masks on, now the players sunbathing without them on. She must be a Gers fan.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is untitled-135.png

I smell a rat

Winged Rat Chimaera - - Rattus volantis - 40×33×24 cm - Catawiki

When I saw the Herald headline below, I smelled a rat. I didn’t expect it to be a winged one.

After a quick search, it became clear that the poll had been paid for and scripted by Wings over Scotland.

In a strange report, Stuart Campbell writes:

In addition to the Survation poll that was in the field last week and which we’ve been reporting on, there was also a Panelbase one going round at the same time. (It’s as yet unpublished, and having been sent a few of the… interesting questions in it by some people who took the poll we’re very excited to find out who commissioned it. Our money is on either George Galloway’s furious new list party – which incidentally just had its registration refused again by the Electoral Commission – or the collection of anonymous hyper-Unionist nutters ironically calling themselves “The Majority”.) But as the opportunity was there we slipped a couple of questions of our own in too, and the findings from one of them were pretty dramatic. Because SNP loyalists on social media endlessly insist that nobody outside the Twitter political bubble cares much about the scandal over the Scottish Government’s conduct regarding Alex Salmond, and it turns out that’s not true.

What is he on about? Why is he talking about George Galloway? Is he trying to make himself seem less suspicious?

Is this computer games coder humour? Don’t imagine you can say I don’t get it because I’m too old. Ageism is now illegal. I’ll sue. Kezia Dugdale’s dad is my adviser.

Then we see the evidence:

It’s a Panelbase poll so must it be accurate? It will be interesting to see the full report.

Even with a reliable pollster it is possible to get what you want. Survation has now done four for Scotland in Union , all of which found big leads for staying in the UK.

It’s hard to imagine someone with more determination to get the First Minister, so I can’t help but be suspicious. I don’t know how he did it but…..

Seriously though, against the background of numerous polls suggesting very high levels of confidence in Nicola Sturgeon, this seems a bit of an outlier.

Then again, Murdo Fraser is on his side, so what do I know.

Winged Rat Chimaera - - Rattus volantis - 40×33×24 cm - Catawiki

Feeding England’s demand for power and paying for the ‘privilege’

An informative piece in the Herald and missing only two things. A headline that clarifies just what is going on here, done above, and some indication of the scale of Scotland’s resilience in transferring huge amounts of power to England would help.

Note in the Herald’s headline ‘Scottish grid premium charges’ to refer to what are, of course, UK grid’s charges imposed on Scotland.

From David Bol today:

A LEADING energy company has warned that Scotland will not be able to scale up wind farms to meet climate targets without an overhaul of charging regimes that “penalises” projects north of the border. Currently, Scotland is planning or has installed around 740 MW of energy from offshore wind farms. But the Scottish Government hopes to scale up the infrastructure to between 8GW and 11GW by 2030 – by when a pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 75 per cent of 1990 levelswill need to be met.

Good, good, but why ‘penalises’ when you present the evidence that it penalises?

And, why no mention of this easily accessed information?

So, 15.6 GWh of electricity was transferred from Scotland to England in 2019 and is likely to increase to around 18GWh this year.

The small transfer to Scotland is from Northern Ireland.

1GWh is enough to power around 725 000 homes. 18GWh will power 13 million homes. There are around 2.5 million households in Scotland and 28 million in England.

Desperately seeking the same as England

As NHS England suffers a real crisis with infection and death rates surging to the highest in the World and whole regions on the very edge of being overwhelmed, the BBC Health Correspondent, Lisa Summers, pounces gleefully on a report from James Cook on one of Scotland’s more hard-pressed areas, Monklands in Lanarkshire.

You might remember Summers, a few weeks ago, excited about a small rise in hospital-acquired Covid infections in Scotland but not mentioning that they were only at 2% and at that, a tiny fraction of the rates in NHS England. Or, back in 2019, when she decided all-by-herself to call Dundee’s Oncology Department ‘dysfunctional’, only to have a St Andrews professor offer the facts suggesting that maybe the term might be better applied to her reporting.

As for Cook, recent champion of opening-up gyms early, his report is the usual evidence-free stuff.

Now I’m not saying that the Monkland staff are not under pressure but the NHS in Scotland, as cases decline, as hospital admissions begin to level-out, while still, nationally at only two-thirds of capacity, and with ICU at only one-quarter of capacity, is coping impressively. There is only one NHS in Scotland. Patients can be transferred . They always have been.

Not mentioned, of course, NHS Lanarkshire has 351 Covid patients, down from 367 the previous day and 18 in ICU down from 20, the previous day.

This ‘news’ is not representative of the lived experience of those consuming it, it’s a scare story.

Shielding the Tories from drug deaths and pinning the blame on Nicola

From BBC Scotland’s Glenn Campbell at 06:27am and no doubt all day, we hear, headlined again, of Scotland’s drug deaths, the highest in Europe allegedly and watch an attempt to pin something on the First Minister.

Writing the tabloid headlines for them, Campbell notes that deaths have doubled in the years since Nicola Sturgeon took over.

The Conservatives get to demand a big expansion in services but escape without any reference to their role in denying the permission at UK-level, for the safe injection rooms that could save many lives. As for the historical background linking the high death rate which is nearly all among older users whose young lives were shattered by Thatcher’s destruction of industrial Scotland in the 1980s, well forget that. What about Labour’s decades long betrayal of those same communities? Don’t be silly. That never happened, in their world.

No doubt, the Reporting Scotland versions of this will be expanded but don’t expect to hear that the NHS Scotland drug treatment service consistently beats its 90% target for treatment within 3 weeks and that in September 2020 had treated 96.9% of the 3 977 seeking treatment within that demanding timescale.


Headlining this particular story, always comparing Scotland with other countries but rarely doing so when Scotland does better, as in Covid, almost always shielding the Tories as with Brexit and mostly personalising the story in the form of an SNP leader, to imply guilt of some kind, are editorial choices.

They do not report the news, they make the news.

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John Robertson, retired professor of media politics and SNP member Photo: Ayrshire Daily News


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