‘Scottish Researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession’: A critical response to the Health Correspondent of the Herald Newspaper

Are Scottish nurses angels

Fair enough then, that could be true and is probably true, or even more truthful, for nearly every profession. Try substituting ‘politician’, ‘journalist’ or ‘lawyer’ and you might want to go stronger on the claim. Some, making comments under the online version of the article, were pretty disparaging along the lines of my opening sentence and wondering if their money had been wasted doing this ‘research’. After reading the whole of the report and the whole of the article by the ‘Scottish researchers’ my main concern is that it is neither ‘Scottish’ in any meaningful way nor is it ‘research’ by any standard. To be fair the authors don’t call it research but Helen Puttick has made the association. ‘Writing in the Herald newspaper on Tuesday 1st March, 2016, as Health Correspondent, Puttick produced a short piece, under the headline: ‘Scottish researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession’. Some journalists should…..?

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2 thoughts on “‘Scottish Researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession’: A critical response to the Health Correspondent of the Herald Newspaper

  1. johnrobertson834 March 3, 2016 / 11:56 am

    Have written to Editor and IPSO

    ‘Scottish Researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession’
    I write to complain about the above article by Helen Puttick, Health Correspondent, on Tuesday 1st March 2016.
    After reading the whole of the Ms Puttick’s report and the whole of the article by the ‘Scottish researchers’ my main concern is that neither is ‘Scottish’ in any meaningful way nor is the ‘article’, ‘research’ by any standard. To be fair the authors don’t call it Scottish research but Ms Puttick has made the association.
    Here is the first distortion in Pittock. ‘Scottish’ gets two mentions, ‘Scotland’, ‘Stirling’ and ‘Napier’ get one mention each with a further two each for ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Abertay’. By contrast there is only a sole mention of ‘Leeds’ and ‘Mid-Staffordshire’. So with nine Scottish locations this must be about nurses in Scottish hospitals, no? The subtitle is:
    ‘UNIVERSITIES might be selecting the wrong people to become nurses, according to a radical article written by nurse trainers in Scotland.’
    Which universities? Scottish ones? It looks that way doesn’t it? It might, though, only be one university in Mid-Staffs (see below).
    On reading the full, yet only 3-page, article, in Nurse Education Today, Pittock should have found there, easily, that the only UK empirical evidence of abuse of mental health patients proven in the UK was in Mid-Staffs in 2013. I will be writing to the Editor of Nurse Education Today to protest their very low standards (see below) and to the Press Complaints Commission.
    Four of the five authors do seem to be nurse trainers in Scotland but the fourth-listed author ‘Patric ffrench Devitt’ works apparently in a Leeds Hospital Trust. Dare I suggest he was the only one to actually have access to do research on actual practitioners? Well, maybe not, because he’s on the Nurse Education Today board listed as being on the staff at Salford University.
    There is no evidence, nor indeed, any reporting, on the Scottish NHS anywhere in the ‘article’ or in any of the references that they give. The title of Pittock’s report, the nine Scottish locations and only two English locations suggests to the reader that there is. Four of the five authors of the three-page article work in Scotland but none has gathered any empirical evidence. Second, the article is just over three pages long, by five authors (!) and most definitely not a research report of any kind whatsoever, in Nurse Education Today.
    For interest, this journal has a research impact factor of 1.364 for research reports which tend to be around 15-20 pages in length and present new evidence. This means that a full research ‘report’ in this journal will be cited by an average of just over one other writer. Anything under 4 is of relatively low status in the research world. The Lancet sits at 55.873. Further, three of the authors, Ion, Devitt and Roxburgh are on the editorial boards at the same journal.
    So, this ‘article’ is not a reliable source for such dramatic newspaper headlines as those imagined by Pittock and may have caused serious offence to Jewish people and to mental health nurses by its implication of a Scottish context and by its association with Holocaust Studies.
    Yours, shocked, a regular reader/paper version buyer and admirer of many of your staff:

    Dr John Robertson

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  2. johnrobertson834 March 9, 2016 / 11:58 am

    My response to IPSO decision to reject my complaint:

    Dear Isabel

    9.3.16

    I request that the Executive’s decision to reject my complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. Please note this request was sent less than 24 hours after your notification to me of the decision to reject my complaint.

    My reasons are:

    1. Further inaccuracy in your review. I will make these comments in your text in green, bold and italicised
    2. A failure to understand the Scottish political and electoral context for this complaint. I’ll make this point at the end.

    ‘Dear Professor Robertson,
    I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about an article headlined “Scottish researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession”, published by The Herald on 1 March 2016.
    On receipt of a complaint, IPSO’s Executive staff reviews it to ensure that it falls within our remit, and represents a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Executive has now completed an assessment of your complaint under the terms of the Code. Having considered the points you have raised in full, we have concluded that your complaint does not raise a possible breach of the Code.

    I strongly disagree and evidence my complaint below.

    You complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the article was misleading because it said that the paper on which it was based was written by “nurse trainers in Scotland”. The paper was written by academics at four Scottish institutions and one English institution. In circumstances where four of the report’s five authors were based at Scottish universities, it was not significantly misleading to attribute the findings of the research to “nurse trainers in Scotland”. You also said that the article inaccurately implied that there were issues in Scottish hospitals. The article made clear however that the study had drawn from the “care failures such as those uncovered in Mid-Staffordshire”. As such we cannot consider your concerns as a possible breach of Clause 1.

    The headline was: ‘Scottish researchers: Not all nurses are angels – maybe some should never have entered the profession’ This opening makes a very strong connection in the mind of a reader that the problems are in the Scottish NHS and that they have been empirically researched there. This is simply inaccurate and misleading.

    The quote is: ‘…draws together views on how care failures such as those uncovered in Mid Staffordshire can be prevented in future.’ This clearly implies that there are other sources of evidence and not just Mid-Staffs. Quick reading and reference checking of the Nurse Education Today article will confirm that it is only Mid-Staffs from which any conclusions can be drawn. The article is inaccurate again.

    I insist the Herald article is overall, inaccurate, misleading and shoddy.

    You also complained under Clause 8 (Hospitals). I should draw to your attention that the terms of Clause 8 relate to journalists’ obligations to identify themselves and obtain permission before entering non-public areas of hospitals or similar institutions to pursue enquiries. We note there is nothing in your complaint to suggest that it engages the terms of Clause 8.

    I understand.

    My second point is this. The Herald article was published in the context of Scottish politics and, in particular, a forthcoming Holyrood election in which care of the Scottish NHS will be important. Misleading reporting, implying evidence of problems in the SNHS, for which the SNP government is responsible and which are not evidenced anywhere can be seen as ideological rather than factual. Many Herald readers were to make serious and angry online critiques of Ms Pittock’s article. Further, this negative reporting is against the background of regular empirical research findings suggesting the SNHS is in good condition in both a global and UK context. See for example the non-strike-action of junior doctors and reports from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine on the effectiveness of Scottish A&E and the Commonwealth Foundation on the morale of Scottish-based GPs.

    Sources:
    BBC 1 News, 8.3.16, 6.30pm
    People in Scotland are the most satisfied, followed by those in England and then Wales.
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/08/public-satisfaction-with-nhs-drops-5-last-year

    Royal College of Emergency Medicine (2016) PRESS STATEMENT – For immediate release RCEM Scotland launches Essential Facts regarding A&E services in Scotland at: http://www.rcem.ac.uk/
    Commonwealth Foundation Scottish GPs: Most satisfied and least stressed in the UK and possibly the world, at: http://newsnet.scot/?p=116523

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