Here is the news: NHS Scotland performs better, but you may not know it: Reply to complaint by Eleanor Bradford BBC Health Correspondent

Here is the news: NHS Scotland performs better, but you may not know it


Dear Eleanor

Would you care to comment on Prof Robertson’s post on Newsnet regarding the News blackout on BBC Scotland regarding the positive NHS figures which were prominent on all the other BBC regional reports.

This is an example of the declining trust in you and the BBC in reporting in a balanced way.

Censoring news like this is counter productive and further erodes your reputation in the eyes of the public. So when you do report an increasing amount of listeners and viewers do not believe what you say or find your investigations credible.

I look forward to your reply setting out why you decided the Scottish people were to be denied a report showing Scotland NHS in a good light.



Dear Anon

My response to Ms Bradford


EB: Professor Robertson’s article makes several mistakes in his analysis of our coverage of Scotland’s waiting time performance on 10th December.


JR: Ms Bradford’s use of the word ‘mistakes’ perhaps reveals a simplistic or positivistic way of thinking about news reporting where are there are to most minds few mistakes but many more differences of opinion. This can result in unconscious bias.


EB: First of all he suggests that Reporting Scotland chose not to report the waiting time stats because it is biased, yet he himself points out that we did report them online.  This suggests that the journalists working for Reporting Scotland have a biased agenda, but those working for online don’t.   However the journalist for both TV and online come from the same team and I provide advice on health matters to both outlets.  Why would I provide biased advice to one programme, yet not to the other?


JR: This is obfuscation of the first order. Reporting Scotland is the flagship outlet for BBC Scotland news and one which attracts the more mature voters that we know are more likely to be scared by alleged health crises. In the months before the 2015 General Election, Reporting Scotland, mainly fronted by Ms Bradford, serially referred to alleged failures in the Scottish NHS.On one or more occasion, in this period, she reported inaccurately on stories from England (Torbay) suggesting superiority in the system there. The performance in recent months demonstrates clearly better performance in Scotland than in England. To ensure a degree of balance, this relatively good new deserved to be reported. My full report, revealing this and notably showing how fair by contrast STV were, can be found at:



EB: The reason TV bulletins did not report the waiting time figures for Scotland was because the story on UK-wide programmes was prompted by the publication of waiting time figures for England, and England only.  The waiting time figures for Scotland had been released two days previously.  It made sense to include the Scottish figures within a story about England’s performance to provide context (along with figures for Wales and Northern Ireland), but it was not breaking news which needed to be reported in a programme which was only being broadcast in Scotland.   The BBC in Wales did not report the waiting time figures for Wales that day either, for the same reason.  I have been unable to access the running order for Northern Ireland that day but I would assume they didn’t report ‘old’ waiting time figures, simply because UK-wide news programmes were doing so.


JR: Again, confused, evasive or just ill-informed, the above does not answer the question. Bad news about SNHS features heavily on RS, improvements do not.  Two days is ‘old’? That’s a new level of tightness for RS. I agree it made sense to include it in the BBC 1 report for comparison but this has never presented RS repeating bad news stories for the Scottish Government as often as they can.


EB: As the Scottish waiting time figures are released every 7 days, we only report them when they change dramatically or reach a statistically significant high or low.   The figures released on 8th December where not significantly high (since the NHS has performed better than this in the past) but neither were they significantly low.  Therefore we chose to concentrate on other stories of more significance.


JR: Again Pravda-like distortion of reality is Ms Bradford’s defence strategy. The first sentence is a clear lie if you look at reporting on A&E targets in Spring 2015. The figures including hitting the targets for the first time in Winter and ahead of the rest of the UK – not significant? Define significance for me. I’ll share this wider and let everybody I can laugh at Ms Bradford’s wriggling.


Douglas: You (not Ms Bradford?) wrote: The comments made undermines your standing at UWS and questions whether you are a suitable person to hold such a prestigious position. What? Anyway, I resigned my professorship in protest at nepotism in UWS and retire this month.


Best John






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