Scottish hospitals meet their patient safety aim 15 months early


From the Scottish Government, today:

‘New figures show that Scotland’s world leading patient safety programme has cut hospital mortality by over 10 per cent across the period – meeting a key aim, 15 months early. The latest Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) show there were 7,800 fewer than expected deaths between the first quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2017 – a drop of 10.6 per cent. The fall is being attributed to the Scottish Patient Safety Programme which works to reduce harm and improve the safety and reliability of healthcare.’

This success is merely one more indicator of a relatively well-run NHS. See this for a fuller picture:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’


Massive increase in Chinese visitors to Edinburgh NOT attributed to weak pound and attracted by ‘Strongman skirt parties’



According to Visit Scotland, the Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign, launched in November 2016 by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group has played a large part in a 40% increase in tourists from China in just one year. This is a rare example of Scotland’s booming tourism not being attributed mainly to the weak pound and the quality of our attractions or the efforts of those working in the industry getting at least some credit. See these for more detail on the likely causes of this wider growth:

‘BLOODY HELL Robert the Bruce movie Outlaw King will feature some of the bloodiest battle scenes in cinema history’, put Braveheart in the shade and boost tourism like Outlander.

‘Outlander links see visitors to historic sites soaring’

Tourism spending in Scotland surges ahead of UK figure

Glasgow wins two first places in global tourism awards and comes 4th out of 50!

North Americans lead surge in Scottish tourism because they feel safer here

As you no doubt expected, it’s a lot more complex than just a weak pound and it seems some attractions are so popular they now have delightful Chinese names given to them. See this from a Scotland Now / Daily Record piece in 2015:

Kilt = Ke Te Duan Qun – Translation: Ke-te short skirt (Homophone for “kilt”)

Highland Games = Qun Ying Hui – Translation: Strong-man Skirt Party

The Willow Tea Rooms = Wei Le Cha Wu – Translation: Always happy tea room

Arbroath Smokies = Hei Xue Jin Zong – Translation: Golden brown haddock

Malt Whisky Trail = Xiang Jiu Xiang – Translation: Fragrant liqueur lane

Loch Fyne = Hao Qing Hai Wan – Translation: Love oysters loch

Haggis = Mie Mie Bu Ding – Translation: Baa-baa pudding

Fingal’s Cave = Qin Jian Dong – Translation: Keyboard Cave

Glen Coe = Qi Yan Gu – Translation: Splendid and beautiful valley

The Style Mile = Feng Shang Chang Jie – Translation: Fashion long street

The National Wallace Monument = Yong Zhe Xin Bei – Translation: Monument to brave heart

Culzean Castle = Huan Jing Xuan Ya Bao – Translation: Dream castle on the cliff

Glenfinnan Viaduct = Tian Qian Fei Hong – Translation: Highland Rainbow

The Elephant House = Mo Fa Ka Fei Guan – Translation: Magic Café (refering to Harry Potter)

Royal Mile = Rong Yun Mei Jing – Translation: A beautiful street with long history and profound culture

Eilean Donan Castle = Sha Ou Gu Bao – Translation: Picturesque castle

Balmoral Castle & Estate = Wei Ai Cheng Bao – Translation: One True Love Castle (sounds like Victoria I)

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo = Bao Ding Sheng Li – Translation: Grand ceremony for Edinburgh’s soldiers

Loch Ness Monster = Ni Si Mei Ying – Translation: Phantom of Loch Ness

The Kelpies = Kai Po Ju Ma – Translation: Glorious armoured giant horses (homophonic with Kelpies)

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park = Shan Hu Huai Bao Zui Meng Xiang – Translation: Mountain Lakes Get You Drunk on Dreams

Cairngorms National Park = Yun Yuan Xue Ling – Translation: Snow mountains reaching into sky

George Street = Hui Cui Tang Huang – Translation: Luxury Golden Palace


BBC: ‘Scotland top for whale and dolphin sightings after 10 years of SNP rule’


(actually a North American orca hearing the Scottish results)

(c) Photograph: Martin Ruegner/Getty Images

See, the BBC can do good news about Scotland without any if or buts, when they try or don’t think it can be used to promote independence. They mis-underestimate my determination.

Here’s the league table of marine mammal sightings for 2017:

Scotland                                  608 (C)

England                                   555

Wales                                      231

Channel Islands (France?)       11

Isle of Man (Scotland?)           5

Northern Ireland                     0 (R)

Aye doan’t think NI are really trying. Maybe they doan’t see the porpoise in it? Could this be evidence of English dolphins heading north to get away from Theresa and Boris?

Footnote: I will admit to slightly modifying the BBC headline. It’s just editorial discretion.

Misery for Herald readers as they imagine ‘misery for passengers’ on ScotRail, the 4th best out of 26 UK rail companies in terms of overall satisfaction, with a score of 96%


In the Herald today, we read one of the worst examples of bias by exaggeration and omission in an attempt to damage the SNP government by association with the national rail company, ScotRail. Here’s what they had to say:

‘Misery for passengers sees Scotrail fined a record amount. Rail passengers’ misery has been laid bare after ScotRail has received record fines for failing to meet required standards for the running of the nation’s trains and stations.’

Note: I had to add the apostrophe after ‘passengers’.

Now, I’m sure there is an inverse correlation between fines and customer satisfaction – the higher the fines the lower the satisfaction but you need to know a whole lot more before you start suggesting the passengers are all miserable. You’d need to ask them and that’s what the National Rail Passenger Survey for Autumn 2017, published in January 2018, did.

They found that 96% of ScotRail passengers were satisfied overall with their journeys. This placed ScotRail 4th (equal) out of 26 UK rail companies. They didn’t ask if anyone had been made miserable by them.

Now for the fines which the Herald thought meant passengers must be miserable. It’s £3 million so far in this financial year. The financial year is nearly over. Is that a lot?

Well, Southern Rail were fined £13.4 million in 2016/17 for just the London to Brighton run.

And, in 2015/16, Scotrail provided 93.2 million passenger journeys over 2.8 billion passenger-kilometres.

So, ScotRail were fined an average of 3p per passenger-journey or 0.1p per passenger-kilometre. That making anyone miserable?

Lib Dems provide STV and Herald with cheap and shabby copy on NHS consultant costs

‘Honest, it was that big!’

(c) Herald

The Herald and the STV trumpeted:

‘NHS ‘spends £38,000 a day on consultants’ overtime’


‘NHS spending £38,000 a day on consultants’ overtime’

In both cases the story had been largely researched and written by Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton. Both gave him space to have wee rant and to accuse the Scottish Government of a ‘chronically chaotic approach to workforce planning.’

Neither, of course, thought to tell us just how many consultants there are working in the Scottish NHS and how many vacancies need to be covered by overtime payments, to let us put this in a kind of useful context.

As of September 2017, there were 5 189.8 consultants working in NHS Scotland. Though there are still 430.5 vacancies still to be filled, the shortage fell in the last quarter by 9.6% and the annual overall number of consultants rose by 3.5%. Vacancy rates for consultants are also down from 8.3% in 2016 to 7.5% in 2017. More strikingly, consultant numbers have risen by 43.1% under the current government! To put that in context, overall NHS Scotland staffing has risen by 25.4% in the ten years of SNP administration. Does this look anything like Cole-Hamilton’s ‘chronically chaotic approach to workforce planning.’?

So, 430 vacancies out of more than 5 000 consultants and £38 000 spent per day to cover for them? That means, on average, just over £88 spent per day to cover more than 400 vacancies. It’s not exactly spendthrift is it?

Finally, to help the reader put this story in even more context by giving a better example of chaos, see this on the cost of private services:

In year 2015/16 NHS England spent £7 billion on private services. NHS Scotland spent £78.5 million. So, with 10 times the population to care for, NHS England spent nearly 100 times as much on private care. In 2016/17, NHS Scotland spending on private care fell again, to £72 million. The NHS figure for 2016/17 is not available but is expected to have risen even further.

Once more, Scotland’s mainstream journos write as if they’ve never had any proper training in the essential use of context to make their stories actually informative and to justify their often-made claim of being public watchdogs. More like establishment poodles, feart of a British bulldog?

Scottish politics is third best in world for women’s empowerment and well ahead of UK

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(c) Holyrood Magazine

From the STV website:

‘Scotland ranks third in the world for political empowerment for women and is significantly ahead of the rest of the UK. Research carried out by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) found Scotland follows Iceland and Nicaragua in terms of female political empowerment while the UK is ranked 13th.’

Iceland is no surprise to me, but I must admit Nicaragua caught me out. A bit more research and I found that my surprise was sadly justified. See this from Quartz in November 2015:

‘Nicaragua, one of the world’s poorest countries, has made the most progress in narrowing its gender gap over the past 10 years, according to a World Economic Forum report released Nov. 19. The group’s “gender gap index” for the country rose to 78% in 2015 from 66% in 2006, as women there scored big gains in health, education and political representation. The measure for total equality is 100%. But that doesn’t mean Nicaraguan women are doing great. In fact, when compared with their counterparts around the world, they are doing pretty poorly. That’s because the index measures women’s position compared to men in their country, not to women in other places, as the BBC pointed out (link in Spanish) when Nicaragua scored highly last year. So even being at the top of the ranking isn’t a sign that women are doing well.’

Also, with regard to domestic violence, ‘one out of every two women in Nicaragua has experienced some form of violence in her lifetime.’

The contrast with Scotland is quite stark where reported domestic violence is now among the lowest in the world. See:

Reported domestic violence in Scotland falls. Is this part of wider change?

Exclusive: shock figures reveal Scotland’s prisons NOT included in Observer report on state of UK’s (sic) ‘brutal’ prisons


(c) Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

From the Observer today:

‘Observer analysis of inspection reports shows two in five jails are unsafe and inadequate conditions prevail in over two-thirds. The scale of the crisis engulfing Britain’s (sic) prisons can be revealed, after an Observer investigation found that two-thirds are providing inmates with inadequate conditions or unacceptable treatment. An analysis of hundreds of inspections covering 118 institutions found that a staggering 68% are now providing unsatisfactory standards in at least one respect, with two in five jails deemed to be unacceptably unsafe.’

It’s only when we get down to the ninth paragraph that we read:

‘The Observer investigation found that in the most recent inspections of adult prisons in England and Wales, 80 out of the 118 jails examined were providing insufficient or poor standards in at least one area.’

and that this might be due to a 30% staffing cut since 2010 under Home Secretary, Theresa May.

I know, we’re all used to the conflation of UK with England but surely the ‘intelligent’ Observer could get it right? As you’ll see, I’m ‘sic’ (Latin for ‘thus was it written’; prætentious ?) of pointing it out.

But, wait a minute Jacobus, surely Scottish prisons are even rougher and proud of it (?) but, no, it seems we have another sign of the softening of the Scots like the lower homicide, domestic abuse and knife-handling rates that I’ve reported here. See this from David Strang (sounds like a strongman), HM Inspector Prisons (Scotland):

‘As Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS), I am responsible for the inspection and monitoring of the conditions in prison and the treatment of prisoners. The general conditions in prisons have improved in recent years, as old prisons have been replaced or refurbished and new prisons have been built. The majority of prisons have modern facilities and residential accommodation of a suitable standard.  Across the 15 prisons in Scotland, prisoners have generally told me that they feel safe. It is a fundamental requirement of a well-run prison that people who live and work there should feel confident in its stability and order. We should never take for granted the good order that is maintained in Scotland’s prisons and that they are in general stable and secure environments.’

I met an older (even) Jock (it’s not racist when another Jock says it) yesterday, who was keen to have a wee rant about how the younger generation don’t remember and take pride in the old fighting Scots regiments and their willingness to die in battle at twice the rate of those soft English regiments. He’d be devastated by this news.