BBC Scotland’s Report on Elderly Care Inspections Trips, Titillates and Scandalises but Fails to Inform: Once again hard-working carers attacked on the basis of anecdote

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3 thoughts on “BBC Scotland’s Report on Elderly Care Inspections Trips, Titillates and Scandalises but Fails to Inform: Once again hard-working carers attacked on the basis of anecdote

  1. johnrobertson834 June 3, 2016 / 11:05 am

    Sent a complaint squeezed into their limit of 2000 characters. see below. will post reply when I get it.
    Type of complaint
    BBC News (TV, Radio and website)
    Which news service is it about
    TV News
    Channel
    BBC One
    Programme title

    Transmission date
    01/06/2016
    Broadcast type
    When it was actually broadcast
    Incident time
    18:31
    Complaint category
    Poor quality
    Contacted us before
    No
    Complaint title
    Coverage of Healthcare Inspections
    Complaint description
    The day the inspectors arrived at a hospital and ended up stepping in to help. Press Release for the report from which Reporting Scotland generated their headline, from Healthcare Improvement Scotland: Positive culture and investment in services, but changes required to respond to pressures and better meet patient needs. Review report makes recommendations for making sustained improvements in quality of care. In the press release there’s no mention of the need to intervene. It’s deep in the full report on page 32, item 96, last of four bullet points. How did this become the headline? It was a decision by inspectors, who didn’t know the patients’ diagnosis or psychological assessment at all, in one hospital only, to ‘intervene’ to ‘help’. This single anecdotal piece of evidence was not headlined or used in any way by HIS. Its complete absence from the press review and its location in the report, tells you much unless of course you’re a tabloid hack (Daily Mail, Sun?) in pursuit only of titillation and scandal. I’m complaining here about a report from the BBC! The national broadcaster is responsible for informing the public not titillating or scaring them. There’s more, sadly. The inspectors visited four hospitals. The intervention took place in only one. See this from the report on page 32: For example, in the frail elderly ward in Ferryfield House, we intervened on two separate occasions to assist patients who were calling for assistance and had waited 5–10 minutes.’ The BBC report does not tell us this key fact. Further the opening images as Ms Bird gives the above headline, shows the entrance sign for a different hospital – Astley Ainslie – where no intervention was made. Ms Bradford goes on to tell us that ‘There is (sic) other concerns..’ before interviewing a relative of a single elderly patient whose case was in 2013. We’ve seen from the press release, that the HIS report is a much more positive account than you would ever guess from BBC Scotland’s coverage.
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  2. johnrobertson834 June 14, 2016 / 10:17 am

    Here’s the response:
    Dear Professor Robertson

    Reference CAS-3857699-M6Z30T

    Thank you for your correspondence. Your comments were passed to the Editor of Reporting Scotland, who has asked that I forward his response as follows:

    “Thank you for being in touch with us about the teatime edition on Wednesday 1st June.

    You point out that we used a shot over a headline which showed a hospital – Astley Ainslie – which did not match the words in that headline. Astley Ainslie was one of four hospitals visited by inspectors, which is why it was originally chosen for use as a backdrop in the studio. Whilst there was short staffing at all four hospitals, as you point out, the focus of the report was on particular failings at a different hospital. We accept that it would have been more accurate to use an image of that hospital and we are sorry if this caused any confusion.

    You query why we might use a part of the report which does not appear in the press (or news) release. We do not write our stories from news releases but from an assessment of the news values of a whole report. In this case the investigation which was the subject of the report was carried out as a direct consequence of a complaint about care in a hospital facility in NHS Lothian. When we interviewed “a relative of a single elderly patient whose case was in 2013”, that was no random interview: it was with the daughter of the man whose treatment was complained about and whose plight was the reason for the report in the first place.

    You also appear to ignore the content of the interview Jackie Bird conducted with our health correspondent Eleanor Bradford. She cited the story in the report of the two ward interventions with patients who had been ringing their buzzers for up to ten minutes. She also cited another part of the report which recorded that three of the elderly wards among the four institutions inspected had buzzers ringing constantly. She said a running theme was understaffing. She then cued in the interview with Shona Oliver in which she said the report chimed with her family’s experience in the ward – the “constant cacophony” of buzzers, shouting and screaming – “the noise of distress”, as she put it.

    Our health correspondent was at pains to point out that NHS Lothian say they have put a further million pounds into staffing and are urgently addressing the issues arising; and that the report had found areas of good performance in all the hospitals.

    You end your complaint with a further reference to Health Improvement Scotland’s press release as being “a much more positive account of the report”. Let me reiterate that a press or news release is not a sacred document to be cut and pasted into a BBC news story – it is a guide which may or not be helpful depending on the degree and position of emphasis the issuing organisation wishes to place on its contents.

    The one thing we might be able to agree on is your sentence “The national broadcaster is responsible for informing the public not titillating or scaring them”. I hope that what I have explained here bolsters your confidence that we are in accord with your aim.

    Thank you again for being in touch.”

    Details of the BBC complaints process are available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle.shtml

    Kind regards

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  3. johnrobertson834 June 14, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    My second complaint: Reporting Scotland – 6.30pm
    Transmission date
    01/06/2016
    Broadcast type
    When it was actually broadcast
    Incident time
    18:32
    Complaint category
    Poor quality
    Contacted us before
    Yes
    Reason for contacting us again
    Unhappy with previous response
    Reference
    3857699
    Complaint title
    Failure to answer first complaint
    Complaint description
    Reference CAS-3857699-M6Z30T RS Ed: You point out that we used a shot over a headline which showed a hospital – Astley Ainslie – which did not match the words in that headline. Whilst there was short staffing at all four hospitals, as you point out, the focus of the report was on particular failings at a different hospital. We accept that it would have been more accurate to use an image of that hospital and we are sorry if this caused any confusion. Me: I asked why you did not inform the viewer that inspectors had only intervened in one hospital. What is your answer? RS Ed: You query why we might use a part of the report which does not appear in the press (or news) release. We do not write our stories from news releases but from an assessment of the news values of a whole report. Me: What do you mean by ‘news values’ other than the trivial titillation and scare-mongering common in tabloid newspapers? You may have learned about news values when training but the BBC has a set of standards which transcend these undergraduate notions and which lead us to expect representative coverage of the report and not whatever takes your fancy. It’s the BBC. RS Ed: You also appear to ignore the content of the interview Jackie Bird conducted with our health correspondent Eleanor Bradford. She cited the story in the report of the two ward interventions with patients who had been ringing their buzzers for up to ten minutes. She also cited another part of the report which recorded that three of the elderly wards among the four institutions inspected had buzzers ringing constantly. She said a running theme was understaffing. Me: These are not significant elements in the report and have been presented by you in an effort to titillate rather than to inform the viewer. Why did you not interview a representative from Health Improvement Scotland to get a more reliable account of the report’s contents?

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