A BBC Scotland complaint – ‘Broken Ankle Man’

Below is a complaint submitted to BBC Scotland on Thursday, January 11th.  The complaint centres on a case study featuring a member of the public who apparently faced delays in receiving treatment for a broken ankle due to pressures on A&E in his local hospital over the 2017 festive season.


Complaint in full

On January 9th a story appeared across BBC Scotland platforms.  The story was based on newly published Accident and Emergency waiting time figures for the Scottish NHS.  Figures, BBC Scotland reported, were the worst on record.

The story dominated news output on BBC Scotland that day.  Bolstering the narrative was a case study featuring one man’s experiences after he slipped and hurt his foot between Christmas and New Year.  Allan Browne featured on Reporting Scotland that morning.

He featured again on the evening programme.

In the first clip above, viewers are told by the presenter that “Allan Browne is one of the patients affected by the long waiting times”.  The presenter adds that Browne attended A&E on Boxing Day “with a suspected fractured ankle after slipping on ice, only to be told the wait would be more than eight hours and it probably wasn’t broken.”

There are no details provided on who allegedly told Browne the wait would be longer than eight hours and that his ankle probably wasn’t broken.

In the second clip viewers are told by reporter Shelley Jofre that Browne “ended up in A&E on Boxing day after slipping on the ice ” and that “faced with an eight hour weight, he hobbled home and went back when the pain became unbearable.”

In both clips viewers then hear Browne complain that he has “been waiting a week” and that a nurse told him that he had fractured his ankle and that he should not have been walking around on it.  Indeed an online clip of Browne heard him complain further about the so-called delay to his treatment.

Complaint 1.

The impression given by the clips is that Allan Browne has been told by qualified hospital staff that his ankle has not been broken and that he will probably not be seen for eight hours.  This information has apparently persuaded Browne that he does not need urgent treatment.  Only after hobbling in pain for a week has he realised that his ankle may in fact be worse than he was told.

The impression is misleading.  Not broadcast on Reporting Scotland was the real reason Browne was not treated when first attending A&E.  He wasn’t treated because he voluntarily left A&E before being seen by a medical professional.  The person who allegedly told Browne his ankle “probably wasn’t broken” was the hospital receptionist.

Browne provided this information during the filmed interview, but it was cut from Reporting Scotland.  An uncut audio recording was broadcast on Radio Scotland earlier that morning.


In the uncut recording, we hear an extraordinary tale from Browne.  He claims to have spoken to a hospital receptionist who he alleges told him he may have to wait up to eight hours to be seen.  He also claims this same receptionist told him his ankle most probably wasn’t broken.  This, we are invited to believe, was why he decided not to seek treatment.

We also learn that Browne waited two whole days after his slip before even going to A&E.  In both TV clips viewers are told Browne first attended A&E on Boxing Day.  However in the uncut audio clip Browne can be heard very clearly saying he slipped two days earlier on Christmas Eve.

Complaint 1.

The decision by Reporting Scotland to edit the interview meant viewers were denied the opportunity to judge whether Browne or his local hospital were responsible for the delay to his treatment.  It is of course normal practice to truncate interviews due to time constraints, but not when by truncating them you present a wholly distorted version of the truth.

Indeed, when all of the facts of this story emerge, it can be seen that Allan Browne received timely treatment when he attended A&E and stayed.  He was even seen within the target four hours.

In the uncut audio recording Allan Browne can be heard very clearly attacking the Scottish Government.  “I always hear the excuse from Government that it’s a seasonal thing, you always have a bottleneck of people at the winter season.  Can’t they prepare better for this?  Can’t they provide more staff?  I don’t know if it’s a funding problem or a management problem, but it seems to me if it’s the same problem every year then it’s fairly predictable and a bit of forward thinking management should be able to counteract that problem.”

This is a political attack on the Scottish Government from someone with a rather dubious tale regarding his experience of A&E.  But is it the gripes of an ordinary everyday punter with no political axe to grind as BBC Scotland has presented it?  The answer is no.

Investigations carried out by a journalist at the online site Butterfly Rebellion uncovered a twitter account and Facebook page apparently run by Allan Browne.  The accounts contained images of ‘Ally Browne’ with links to pro-Union groups and anti-Muslim sites.  They included sectarian anti-Catholic bile, disgusting insults targeting Nicola Sturgeon and messages linking the SNP to Fascism and Nazism.  The accounts are clearly run by a British Nationalist, SNP hating, anti-Catholic bigot who may also hold anti-Muslim sentiments.

Complaint 2.

BBC Scotland appears to have made no effort to either corroborate Allan Browne’s story or check his background.  Moreover, allegations have been made against a receptionist in a hospital we now know is St John’s hospital in Livingston.  Shelley Jofre revealed the identity of the hospital on January 4th.  Has the hospital been contacted and invited to respond to the allegations levelled against it?

A considerable amount of effort and resource was spent filming Browne for his slots on radio and TV.  This filming included allowing what now appears to be someone with extreme views, and a known antipathy towards the SNP, to attack the Scottish Government.  BBC Scotland needs to acknowledge it made several journalistic mistakes giving Allan Browne free reign.

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41 thoughts on “A BBC Scotland complaint – ‘Broken Ankle Man’

  1. james Coleman

    That should stir the bastards at the BBC up. Too bad he didn’t break his hip as well. That would have made a proper story.

    1. jdman

      Is there any proof he actually broke anything?
      other than a splint Im sure could have been aquired by him we have no evidence he even attended A&E at St Johns other than his say so!
      As for how he came to be interveiwed, I would be willing to bet @BBC have him on speed dial!

      1. John I Duffy

        Had the poor receptionist being vilified for this known who she was dealing with, she could have perhaps referred him for a brain scan, which of course would have come back negative. Who walks about on a broken ankle for 9 days, rather than wait a few hours in a hospital. Is there any way we can find out if he actually broke anything, other than my patience?

  2. Davy

    I would say their was more than a bit of collusion between the bbc and the gentleman they interviewed, but the two pricks ended making a right balls-up of the situation.

    Would this come under “fake news”, by the bbc.

  3. Philip Maughan

    Shades of Nurse Clare and the foodbank story where it later emerged that she, like Ally Browne were plants. It’s seems to be either BBC negligence in failing to check the background of members of the public given serious air-time, or collusion. Take your pick. Either way the BBC are guilty.

  4. John Oliver

    My thoughts immediately when seeing this on the day were exactly the same .Who was he and this was a very strange location for a Vox Pop from a randomly chosen member of the public .see behind him a very swish looking hospital canteen (not).This looked more like a prearranged venue at a particular time which goes to suggest this was a set up

  5. Jean Slessor

    The ‘Man on the Street” interviews are staged to present the (supposedly, unbiased) views of the MSM relaying the story! It’s not the first time it has happened! This is truly what Trump would call ‘Fake News’ and this is how news is being presented in the UK!

  6. Maureen Potter

    If his ankle was so bad on Christmas Eve, he would have gone to the hospital then. If you are really ill you will wait until you can be seen by a professional.

  7. kininvie

    Another point of interest is that according to the Daily Record (based on ScotGov figures) a total of only 34 people waited over eight hours on the week ending 31st January. There is no breakdown on the numbers affected on Boxing day, but it would be fair to assume that the majority occurred on Boxing Day. Let’s assume ‘all’.

    We have no way of knowing the nature of the A&E cases assessed by St John’s on Boxing day, but, if the total over ‘over eight hours’ is 34, it is likely a suspected broken ankle would have been triaged before those 34 – ie under eight hours. The receptionist may well have said ‘eight hours’ – but I bet the phrase ‘up to’ would have been added. That should have been clarified.

    But Ally Browne did not choose to wait to be triaged. He did not personally wait eight hours. He was not one of the 34 who stuck it out. So the question is, why was this individual featured, as opposed to one of the 34 who waited eight hours, or indeed one of the 7 who waited more than 12. Surely they would have been more newsworthy?

    The answer has to be that Ally Browne selected himself, by putting himself forward, or by having his name put forward by A.N.Other. And it is at that point that the ulterior motive and lack of background scrutiny kicks in.

    So the real question the BBC should answer is why, and by what process, this individual was selected, when, on the available figures, there were people who chose to wait. Why were their stories not featured? Was it because the BBC took the easy route of featuring the first person who showed up for interview…..?


    1. Cookie

      Or maybe the others they spoke to expressed satisfaction with the treatment they received, and thus their stories were no use to the BBC agenda.

  8. Phil

    Christmas Eve was wet and mild in the catchment are of Livingstone St Johns. The only ice around to slip on would have been in a fridge.

  9. Ger

    Geobbles journalism?
    I bet the receptionist has been hauled over the coals for this . Did she say what he alledges probably not . The BBC and BBC Scotland’s credibility and inability to report truth and facts honestly without bias has been, yet again , exposed! Is there someone employed at the beeb to troll the internet for people like him ? Probably as it suits their type of journalism !

  10. Mark

    As has been asked, where’s the proof he actually did attend & that the whole story has been fabricated from start to finish?

    The hospital would never give out details of any individual case- as the BBC themselves keep telling us when they press them for comment.

    We know the ‘boy’ in question has an agenda & the BBC have similar. Stinks of a set up.

    I mean this is an ‘idiot’ who films himself on a motorbike without wearing a helmet!

  11. Dan Huil

    The bbc is beyond redemption. It’s sole purpose is to do down Scotland, by openly lying if necessary.

    Don’t pay the bbc tax.

  12. Ken McColl

    Thanks for this. A very clear summation of the story.

    Minor point. You appear to have two “complaint 1” sections

  13. Mo Workman

    I took my grand-daughter to Wishaw on boxing day as she had cut her foot on glass and it needed an x-ray before treatment. Wishaw serves a very large area and A & E is often really busy. Rolling board said 9 hour wait, however we were in and out within 3 hours. Staff were helpful and cheery and lovely to my very nervous 10 year old grand-daughter.

  14. Phillip Siviter

    This is all a bit suspicious – I’ve suffered a broken leg myself and can tell you that not only is it a very painful experience, but I was non weight bearing on the leg for more than three months and remained supported for six months by either crutches or a walking stick. You can’t walk on a leg or ankle fracture unsupported from the minute it happens. Ideally, he should have called an ambulance when it happened – you know when you’ve broken anything in your leg or ankle – I know I did.

    1. Sonia

      I disagree with that. You can but you would be in absolute agony. My dad now has to wear a brace on his right leg after a fractured ankle was mis-diagnosed as a bad sprain after attending A&E at PRI. He was given a tubular bandage, advised to take ibruprofen & told it would be ‘sore’ for a couple of weeks. He was in lots of pain but tried to soldier on. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever seen my dad cry. Two weeks later he received a call from the hospital, apologising as they had just reviewed his X-rays & yes indeed he did have a fracture, could he come in. He’s now had 4 ops to try and fix his ankle. Had infection after infection in the bone bc it just won’t heal & now has specially fitted brace & built up shoes. Without his brace he wouldn’t be able to take any weight at all on it or bend his foot. The delay in getting the right treatment immediately has disabled my dad. He can hardly walk, even with the aid of crutches & because of this has become more & more housebound over the last 3yrs.

      Now I’m not telling you this to bash the NHS, I think they are absolutely amazing. My FIL has been admitted twice to Ninewells since 26 Dec, complications related to his recent cancer surgery & my hubby just had spinal surgery at the same hospital on 4 Jan. They both received amazing care which is ongoing now they are both back home. I tell you this, just bc sometimes mistakes can happen.

      Do I believe Allen Browne’s story though? No I don’t!

  15. George A. Culver

    That is one of the most fake statements I have ever heard!

    There is no evidence of anything!

    He doesn’t even sound vaguely sincere!

    If he’d been really bothered, did he not notice any bruising or swelling caused while walking on his alleged injured appendage?

    This whole thing borders on the incredible!

  16. Robert Graham

    A sacking offence for BBC staff this was a set up designed to totally fool the public into believing all A & E units were no go areas ,

    what if someone who really needed attention put it off because of this report and then died as a result .

    This BBC set up is more than exuberant reporting its down right fiction and propaganda and as a result it gave the impression the health service was in meltdown .

  17. grizebard

    Before there was “nursey”, then there was the “reaching out” to extreme right wing audience members for “Scottish-funded” Question Time, now there’s this character with yet another questionable background. Yet the BBC’s own journalistic standards, as declared on its website, proudly state that all sources used should be transparent.

    Seems like Donalda and her minions in the BBC’s Northern Outpost aren’t too fussed about their own rules! Wonder why…?

  18. Lochside

    This jerk is a ‘no surrender oo kaflick/muslim’ hating cretin. And the BBC knew this. They have people like him on speed dial for ‘Call Kaye’, Reporting Scotland and Question time. The same voices, the same bogus sob stories.

    Remember the set up ‘street canvass’of BT supporters walking single file down a street in Edinburgh?…all 6 of them ,while 40,000 nationalists were marching up Calton Hill; Nursey on QT?; Ruth Davidson’s unchallenged ‘statements’ re. rape clause and lying about bigoted councilors being ‘re-educated’ with no hint of critical questioning; and add in Sarah Smith’s bare faced lies about ‘100,000 waiting patients in a week’

    What do you have? clear and present naked propaganda by the BBC directed directly at the SG and the Scottish people. Ther must be some judicial move against the BBC by the SNP. Greg Dyke lost his job for a lot less!

    1. Jockanese Wind Talker

      A concerted ‘Soft Coup’ against the Democratically Elected Scottish Government and by default against the Sovereign Scottish electorate.

      All to keep control of Scotlands resources in the hands of Westminster Tories (Blue, Red and Yellow).

      God Save the Queen and Her Fascist Regime.

  19. Thepnr

    Interesting point about “slipping on ice” on Xmas Eve by Phil and kininvie earlier in the thread.

    Of course I have no idea where this gentleman may have slipped on ice, could have been anywhere in the UK I suppose.

    However that particular Xmas Eve the weather station at Edinburgh airport recorded the highest temperature at that location since 1998. The max was 12 degrees and the min 10 degrees. The whole story sounds like made up bollocks.


  20. ronnie anderson

    Did the Bbc have permission to film Ankle Boy in a Public Area of St John’s Hospital ( presuming he was filmed in St John’s , maybe someone from the Livingstone area can clarify . public are warned when filming is taking place so they can avoid being on camera .

  21. Marie Clark

    Like other folk here , I also suffered from a badly fractured ankle a few years ago. There is no way on the face of this earth that you could have walked around on it for roughly a week. I needed surgery to pin it back in place, and it was non weight bearing for a couple of months, with plenty of physio to get it working properly again. It’s all good now, and I can do most thing quite normally. Thank you to the staff and the surgeon at the hospital.

    This stinks to high heaven, the good old beeb at it again, what a disgusting shower of hypocrits.

  22. Brian Powell

    Is there any way of getting the names of the individuals or teams who put this news out? It would be useful to know if the same people are involved in all of these stories.
    We talk about the BBC but not the people.

  23. MrsGratton

    Why did he not just go to his GP on the 27th. Would have got an X-ray card and by passed the whole A&E department

  24. Michael Devlin

    I broke my outer metatarsal – the wee bone behind my pinky toe- I couldn’t have walked on it for a day never mind a week so numbskull man must have a mega high pain threshold or maybe there is nothing in his head for the neurons to carry the message saying ouch to!

  25. johnny rudkin j

    why is there not an official complaint put to the bbc by the scottish government everytime the bbc come up with this fake news I know ofcom is govertment led but if the bbc keep trying to bring the scottish government down ofcom would have to be seen to be doing something and maybe the scottish bbc would have to pay attention to details

    1. Mungo

      The Scottish Govt don’t believe there’s a problem that’s why Johnny!

      Thank you for getting in touch Mungo.

      We live in the digital age and the media convergence that has taken place in recent years continues to impact on how people access, understand and share news. In the SNP we have embraced this.

      In terms of traditional media, and on the issue of bias, perceived or otherwise, we are continuing to work with broadcasters and media outlets – many of which include websites and newspapers who are not bound by impartiality in any way or form – with the aim of presenting a coherent, clear and positive message for Scotland.

      We recognise that some of our members and supporters get frustrated by some broadcast media coverage. Rest assured – we always contact broadcasters and ask them to correct any factual inaccuracies. Where necessary we take this further. We do this in a robust but respectful and cooperative manner.

      If you are active online and are a Twitter or Facebook user, and keen to help share our positive message, then please do.

      Yours for Scotland,
      SNP team

  26. Scott

    BBC’s Scotland editor Sarah Smith, states: “Last week over one hundred thousand patients waited more than four hours to be seen.

    I find a complaint to BBC is a waste of time below is what I have done.

    Having emailed Donalda MacKinnon, Director, BBC Scotland regarding Ms Smith’s story I have received a reply saying email has been noted and a full response will follow in due course.When I get a full statement from them I will let you know.
    I note that SS has tweeted an apology but as far as I am concerned it must be done on live TV which I have said in my email.

  27. Paul

    If a comment from St Johns Hospital Livingston is needed to clear this up, that’s easy to sort…Neil Findlay!! How many times has Mr Findlay announced alleged problems from St Johns? He seems to have a hotline when there are any perceived scandals there.

  28. mogabee

    In the second film he states he waited 31/2 hours and then was seen. But he must have gone through triage to enable tests, xrays etc to commence! Xrays don’t just happen, they have to be ordered. So, when the nurse saw him and told him it was fractured he HAD to have been seen before 3 1/2 hrs.

    Also, he has a walking cast on which unless I’m mistaken is not used initially for fractures, unless it was not a fracture of any degree. Perhaps he just twisted his ankle…much like his story!

  29. Del

    A chip at the end of the fibula can feel very much like a pulled ligament – I know, I’ve been there. So let’s give the bloke at least 1% leeway. On the other hand, whether a chip or a pull, I didn’t feel like walking around untreated. This was abroad, so the rest of the story is pretty irrelevant: quick treatment and a bill paid through insurance.
    It’ll take a long time for further details to come out, I guess. One reason for not pushing too hard is the pressure it places on the hospital and the receptionist. This is a story that’ll run and run.

  30. Sandy Cuthbert

    When is the Scottish government going to do something about the media in Scotland? This type of reporting is neither accidental or occasional. It should be unacceptable in a free democracy. It reminds me of reporting in the Soviet Union.

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