On January 4th a story appeared across every platform on BBC Scotland. The story related to so-called ‘single crew ambulances’.
According to the BBC 10,000 such ambulances had been despatched between 2013/14 and 2016/17. In every single broadcast the same phrase was used: “According to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.”
The story was number one online, led the morning edition of Reporting Scotland and led every bulletin on that day’s Good Morning Scotland.
The figures were presented as though a failing on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Government. Both were presented on the defensive.
However, it later emerged that the figures were in fact based on a four month old Freedom of Information request submitted by the Scottish Conservatives.
I would therefore like to submit the following complaints:
- BBC Scotland withheld the fact that the figures were the result of a FOI request.
- BBC Scotland ran a four month old FOI request at a time of maximum benefit to the Conservative party and presented the figures as though only recently obtained.
- Every BBC Scotland headline/intro presented the figures as though a failing, despite the most recent figures being the second best on record and an improvement of over one third on the previous year.
- BBC Scotland omitted the following highly relevant part of the Scottish Ambulance Service response from all of its news bulletins. “A single crew will be sent to an incident if they are the closest resource to provide a patient with immediate care, but they will always be backed up by a double crew.”