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.
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.
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.
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.Views: 27853