Eleanor Bradford’s NHS Staffing Report Misleads Again

Eleanor Bradford’s NHS Staffing Report Misleads Again

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5 thoughts on “Eleanor Bradford’s NHS Staffing Report Misleads Again

  1. johnrobertson834 June 15, 2016 / 11:24 am

    Complaint to BBC:
    Reporting Scotland – 6.30pm
    Transmission date
    14/06/2016
    Broadcast type
    When it was actually broadcast
    Incident time
    18:31
    Complaint category
    Poor quality
    Contacted us before
    No
    Complaint title
    Lack of context in reporting GP supply
    Complaint description
    This report of falling GP numbers in Scotland was of poor quality in its lack of informative context or proper sourcing. Most important was the failure to contextualise the figures by providing the ratio of GPs to patients and the comparative ratios for the rest of the UK. Here are the actual data: Scotland -1 GP to 1083 people. England – 1 GP to 1338 people. Wales – 1 GP to 1375 people. Northern Ireland – 1 GP to 1445 people The difference between the Scottish and the other ratios, above, is ‘significant’; a difference that makes a difference. Further, this is not just a one-off phenomenon, in 2015. The Nuffield Trust (see references below) reveals that the gap favouring Scotland has been roughly the same since 2004. http://stv.tv/news/politics/1357142-scotland-has-best-gp-to-patient-ratio-in-uk-statistics-show/ http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/node/254 Second, a 2% fall in one year, against a backdrop of increasing numbers over ten years, means that this statistic is of no significance at all. Nevertheless, Reporting Scotland added this unsourced and unsubstantiated comment: ‘But doctors’ groups point out that when you consider the fact that they see more patients who are older with more health problems that’s a serious concern.’ This later comment is anecdotal and unsourced thus shoddy journalism.

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  2. Clydebuilt June 18, 2016 / 9:38 am

    John can you contact me by email…… Cheers Clydebuilt

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  3. johnrobertson834 June 24, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    BBC Response: Dear Audience Member

    Reference CAS-3877297-VSJLPS

    Dear Professor Robertson,

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

    “Thank you for your interest in our programmes.

    The report you refer to was not, in fact, in the teatime edition of the programme but in the much shorter lunchtime edition. I will answer this complaint on that basis.

    This was a report lasting 48 seconds – that’s fewer than 150 words in television. What Eleanor Bradford explained in that time was the background to statistics just published by the NHS about the number of GP vacancies and the number of GPs working full-time equivalent hours.

    You refer to our “failure to contextualise the figures by providing the ratio of GPs to patients and the comparative ratios for the rest of the UK”. Apart from the difficulty of doing so in the course of an item of such short duration, the relevance and value of such figures is questionable: although GPs in Scotland often have smaller patient lists, this can be offset by the burden of poor health and deprivation in cities, and very large rural practices in the countryside; so it does not necessarily mean that they are in a better position. This is supported by the fact that one in five practices now has a vacancy for a GP (source: ISD).

    You say “a 2% fall in one year, against a backdrop of increasing numbers over ten years, means that this statistic [fall in numbers of FTE GPs] is of no significance at all”. A 2% fall amounts to 90 doctors, but this is against a backdrop of a third of GPs who are expected to retire in the next 10 years (source: ISD). The Royal College of General Practitioners estimates that Scotland requires 830 GPs to regain the coverage levels of 2009.

    You say “Reporting Scotland added this unsourced and unsubstantiated comment: ‘But doctors’ groups point out that when you consider the fact that they see more patients who are older with more health problems that’s a serious concern.’ This later comment is anecdotal and unsourced thus shoddy journalism.” The last comment is based on statements issued by the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs. It is not common journalistic practice to name lists of sources each and every time an issue is reported. We are, however, confident that information based on statements issued by two professional bodies which represent doctors can be regarded as sufficiently well-sourced in a report about doctors.

    In view of what I have written here, you may not be surprised to learn that I reject the label “shoddy” being applied without sound reason to the work of a colleague, particularly one who, in this instance, is respected enough by her peers to a be an award-winning correspondent on numerous occasions.

    Thank you again for taking the trouble and time to be in touch with us.”

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

    Kind regards

    Neil Salt

    BBC Complaints Team

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  4. johnrobertson834 June 24, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    My second complaint:
    RSEd: This was a report lasting 48 seconds – that’s fewer than 150 words in television. What Eleanor Bradford explained in that time was the background to statistics just published by the NHS about the number of GP vacancies and the number of GPs working full-time equivalent hours.
    Me: The background NHS Staffing Report was not just about GP numbers. Indeed your own website headed it: ‘NHS Scotland reports staffing at record high’. Tabloid-like you plucked the only negative you could construct. Remember you’re not the Daily Mail.
    RSEd: You refer to our “failure to contextualise the figures by providing the ratio of GPs to patients and the comparative ratios for the rest of the UK”. Apart from the difficulty of doing so in the course of an item of such short duration, the relevance and value of such figures is questionable:
    ME: Short duration is no excuse for lack of balance or context. The rest of the above is not a justification for an unprofessional lack of context.
    RSEd: You say “a 2% fall in one year, against a backdrop of increasing numbers over ten years, means that this statistic [fall in numbers of FTE GPs] is of no significance at all”. A 2% fall amounts to 90 doctors, but this is against a backdrop of a third of GPs who are expected to retire in the next 10 years (source: ISD). The Royal College of General Practitioners estimates that Scotland requires 830 GPs to regain the coverage levels of 2009.
    Me: 2% in one year is not significant. Please provide the full ISD reference. RCGP is not an impartial or credible source.
    RSEd: You say “Reporting Scotland added this unsourced and unsubstantiated comment: It is not common journalistic practice to name lists of sources each and every time an issue is reported.
    Me: ‘Common journalistic practice’ is fine for the Daily Mail but not the BBC.

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  5. johnrobertson834 July 7, 2016 / 2:26 pm

    Three strikes and I’m out according to BBC complaints

    Here’s the third response to my complaint about their poor quality coverage of staffing in the NHS.

    RepScotEd: ‘The reference to the report not just being about GP vacancies is a point not raised in the original complaint. If you wish it answered, you will have to submit a new complaint.’

    Me: Caught me there eh? I forgot that so we don’t have to answer, nah, nah? A Blair moment?

    RepScotEd: In the sentence beginning “Apart from the difficulty …”, the parenthetical phrase is subordinate to the principal clause which contains the main thrust of the argument, which is that the relevance and value of such figures is questionable. My reference to “the difficulty” was not to the contextualisation but to the provision of said figures – and they were not provided because they were questionable. It might perhaps have been better had I left that phrase out, as it appears to have caused some confusion, and left the principal clause to stand on its own.

    Me: Ms Wilson tried to teach me grammar in 1962, over the noise of shipyard riveting. Her teaching was not so I didn’t get it. However, did I just win that point?

    RepscotEd: You say “2% in one year is not significant”: we did not say it was. I will not provide a “full ISD reference” because it does not relate to what was said on the programme, which was the subject of your original complaint.

    Me: Oh go on, huffyboots. Give me the reference…if there is one. It was on screen.

    Repscot: It is your opinion that the RCGP is not credible: you are perfectly free to express that opinion. You refer twice to the Daily Mail which is, I think, extraneous to this complaint.

    Me: I only said it was a trades union. I think the Daily mail is quite good benchmark for your reporting.

    NottheRepscotEd?: Thank you for being in touch again. We have now responded and explained the BBC’s position as clearly as we can and I do not feel there is more we can usefully add at this stage of the BBC’s complaints process. I realise you may be disappointed by this but we have sought to explain the position and do not have further to add at this stage.’

    Me: So, you give in, really? I see Eleanor has resigned. I do hope I had some small part in that.

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