BBC Scotland has come under attack on social media after an interview conducted by a regular guest pundit was used in order to attack SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s record on the NHS.
Broadcast on Sunday, the interview witnessed journalist Pennie Taylor question Professor David Kerr on his report into the Scottish NHS, published in 2005.
The academic was chair of the National Framework Advisory Group set up by the then Labour led administration at Holyrood.
The interview was used as the basis for a stream of BBC Scotland news bulletins that targeted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP over a perceived failure to adopt key recommendations contained in the report. The bulletins included comments from interviewer Pennie Taylor that criticised Nicola Sturgeon along with a claim that the SNP leader’s party running of the NHS was “a vote for mediocrity”.
The news bulletins, repeated at half hourly intervals on Radio Scotland, prompted an angry reaction on social media with posters questioning the relevance of a thirteen year old report. Others highighted what they said were clear links to the Labour party of Professor Kerr.
One poster said: “Mischief making by @BBCScotlandNews GMS as a 13 year old report on decomissioning hospitals in NHSS by an Oxford acdemic who has spent his working life outside Scotland & who is a lifelong Labour supporter, is dragged up to accuse the ‘scottish nationalist govt’ of ‘mediocrity’ ”
Others questioned why Labour’s record in government, which included PFI, had been ignored: “Here’s the thing, so we are talking about implementing LABOUR policy on the NHS here, which under them in Govt in both Westmisnter and Holyrood seen the lowest SCORES in SNHS, plus PFI removing money from it?”
Pennie Taylor, who carried out the interview, is a regular guest on BBC Scotland current affairs shows and was also a former Health Correspondent for the broadcaster. Ms Taylor also assisted the National Framework Advisory Group chaired by Professor Kerr, facilitating local meetings for the group and helping with newsletters.
Professor Kerr’s views on Nicola Sturgeon’s NHS policies are not new. In 2007, months after the SNP took office for the first time, he attacked the saving of A&E departments, describing the decision as “emotional and irrational”.
There are sure to be questions over whether Ms Taylor should have been allowed to interview her former superior and whether her own views, which appeared sympathetic to those of Professor Kerr, may have coloured her approach to the interview.
At the time of this article, 16:00 on Monday July 16th, the interview is not yet available on iPlayer despite having been broadcast over 30 hours earlier.
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