Hiding good news – Reporting Scotland at its best [worst]

An example of what I believe is the institutional corruption within BBC Scotland appeared on Wednesday.  The day started off with some surprising good news.

Scotland had the best performing NHS across the whole of the UK.  Alone out of the four constituent parts, our NHS had managed to reach some waiting time targets.

Admittedly eight per cent is not a massive figure and certainly nothing to boast about, but when placed alongside zero for England, zero for Wales and zero for Northern Ireland then it’s more than a crumb of comfort.  Best of a bad lot perhaps, but still the best.

The findings followed a UK wide investigation by the BBC.  Below is a short clip of how they were reported on the UK wide BBC news that morning.

The clip above is pretty comprehensive.  The statistics are displayed for each of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.  At the end of the piece the reporter says of Scotland’s NHS, “that’s the best in the UK”.

Now let’s have a look at how the same statistics were covered by Reporting Scotland.  Below is the item as it appeared on the early morning edition.

Not quite as clear-cut is it?  Sally McNair’s auto-cue contains two glaring caveats.  The terms “at times” and “on occasion” are jarring.  There’s also no mention that Scotland’s NHS has the best waiting time target results in the whole of the UK.

Then something odd happened.  The lunchtime edition of Reporting Scotland dropped the item completely.  There was literally no mention of the story that had led the programme only hours earlier.  Where had it gone?

The item had been given a bit of a work-over.  It appeared on the tea-time edition of Reporting Scotland, albeit relegated from its initial top slot.  Below is what viewers of the flagship programme saw.

It’s a confused mish-mash of statistics.  Nothing is clear cut, certainly not the fact that the Scottish NHS came out best performer.  Indeed the tone near the end as Jackie Bird asks what response has come from the Scottish government would lead most people to infer the investigation was actually bad news for the Scottish NHS.

In the space of a few hours, the Reporting Scotland team has managed to turn a relatively good news story into what looks like a bad news story.  The thing to note is that they did it without telling a falsehood.  That folks, is how it’s done.

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14 thoughts on “Hiding good news – Reporting Scotland at its best [worst]

  1. Ayrshirelass

    Has it ever occurred to them that this relentless attack on our public services as a way of getting at the SNP is adding to the fear and worry of people who are ill? The BBC in Scotland should take a long hard cold look at themselves.

    There is such a thing as constructive critcism but it is quite another thing to paint a bleak picture and deliberately suppress good news.

    As anyone who works in the public services knows targets are there to improve performance. If the target is met another more challenging target is set.

    These never intended to be an easy target for political footballing, something which probably everyone in Scotland is sick to death of , whatever their party or whatever side of the independence or Brexit debate they are on.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald

      That is precisely their intention.

      The people for whom they are propagandising want health care as far as possible to be privatised and therefore by continually presenting the NHS in a bad light, people who are seriously ill and their families will become more concerned and will be tempted, if they are able, to seek private care. This private care, will, very likely be provided by staff who are employed by the NHS but are permitted to do private practice. The more private practice they do, the less time they have available for the NHS and so the ‘targets’ for the latter become increasingly difficult to make, thus creating more adverse headlines.

  2. Brian Powell

    If the SNHS bodies don’t speak up they could find themselves in the same situation as the English NHS, because the purpose of this misinformation is to damage the SG and the devolved Parliament in Holyrood.

  3. Jim Hagart

    Surely it isn’t the job of the BBC to provide an NHS health tracker service. If needed the NHS should be doing it. Can’t imagine them providing a similar service re ship building contracts, can you??

  4. Brian

    Ok. Let me get this right. If the target is 95% of patients seen within 4 hours, and you achieve 94% for 11 out the 12 months, and 95% or better for one month out the 12, then your achievement rate is 8%?
    It also assumes (comparing to 4 years ago), that the targets were the same.

  5. Brian

    This is the A&E reality: https://thoughtcontrolscotland.com/2017/10/07/all-scottish-health-boards-ae-departments-outperform-nhs-england-ae-in-summer-2017-and-have-done-for-more-than-two-years-now/

    If we accept that Targets are created to encourage an improved service to the greatest number of patients, then achieving 94% against much lower achievement rates in other UK countries cannot be considered failure. All 4 countries face the same difficulties.
    That is why The Kings Fund in 2013 and The Nuffield Trust in 2017 have recommended that the NHS in England and Wales take a look at how it’s done in Scotland.
    I’m surprised none of this was on The RepScot report.

  6. Dan Huil

    I have nothing but admiration for people like GAP who suffer studying all this anti-Scottish propaganda in order to tell the rest of us the truth. If I had to do it I’d be having serious blood-pressure problems and serious mental health problems.

    Kudos to GAP et al.

    1. Ann Rayner

      As I watched these episodes, I was thinking exactly the same thing. I admire your dedication and stamina in putting yourself through such torture.

  7. Dave oh what

    “Indeed the tone near the end as Jackie Bird asks what response has come from the Scottish government would lead most people to infer the investigation was actually bad news for the Scottish NHS.”

    Sorry to cut and paste but BBC are simply never happy till they’ve fashioned a negativity. BBC Scotland are out of control, demonising or insulting half the population every day. They are repeatedly attacking healthcare workers, as a by product of their action, every chance they get.

  8. S. Laing

    This bbc reporting is so bad on so many levels. I hope unionists are taking note as well. Remember its our friends and relatives who both work in and use our Nhs in Scotland. They are working so hard and are achieving great things in the Scottish Health Service. We should all be thankful that we have a caring SNP government looking after it on our behalf. The bbc could and should do some research into what is going on in the rest of the Uk, they will be shocked and realise how lucky we are in Scotland. Wouldnt it be great to have our own Scottish TV News truly Independent of the Uk.

  9. stewartb

    No need to use the BBC as a source of info on NHS Scotland’s performance. The data have been available online for some time, in what is a fairly accessible, transparent publication. Note that the data include time series to give useful context.

    Source: http://nhsperforms.scot/#hospitals

  10. Ann Forbes

    Not Reporting Scotland this time but the BBC main news tonight – We were told that crime is up 13% in England and ” the figures are similar in Scotland ” !

    This taken from gov.scot website – Recorded Crime in Scotland 2016-2017 page 345313

    3. Main Findings: Recorded Crimes and Offences in Scotland
    Total Recorded Crime

    Total Recorded Crime

    Recorded crime is at its lowest level since 1974. The total number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland in 2016-17 was 238,651. This is 3% lower than the level recorded in 2015-16 (Chart 1 and Table 6). Crime has been on a downward trend in Scotland since 2006-07, having decreased by 43%. This continues a generally decreasing trend in recorded crime in Scotland, from a peak in 1991 when crime reached a record high of 572,921.

  11. Colin Brown

    Excellent work GAP: as the day progressed I noted on BBC R4 the ever-smaller reference to NHS Scotland’s superior performance. For instance, on The World at One, the missing of targets for cancer, A&E and planned operations in E and W and NI was stated – but for Scotland there was silence.
    Then it stated that many NHS targets since early 2016 are consistently missed “with the exception of Scotland’s recent A&E performance” then described the A&E target in Scotland as “hit 3 times in the past year”,
    The full report billed this as a major BBC Investigation, then reprised the above as “performance slumping across the UK over the last 4 years … only Scotland met its A&E target a few times over the past 12 mo” It went on to interview A&E staff about their performance, ignoring the major factor in A&E patient flow which is access to free inpatient beds since the system-wide cuts to numbers of beds.

    By Six O’Clock News, the item had been further blurred by stating that all 3 targets had been routinely missed, and only one hospital in the UK, in Luton, had met all 3 targets in the past year. Then came interviews with an NHS England chief and Jeremy Hunt, then a routine exchange of views about NHS funding.

    And this BBC reportage is said to be a “major invedstigation!”

  12. Cairnallochy

    I cannot understand why the BBC are so hesitant about a Scottish Six, since the UK wide news often allows us to put Reporting Scotland’s coverage into a wider context, too often not to RS’s credit. With an hour long Scottish Six there would be a great opportunity to fill it with the kind of selective, if not downright mendacious, drivel we are served from Pacific Quay, thus delighting every ProudScotBut.

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