The Power of Early Morning Nightmares and Expectant Mothers: BBC Scotland callously undermines the morale of midwives, their patients, expectant mothers and their relatives, with highly selective and un-contextualised information


At 06.26am on Tuesday 22nd November, still dark outside, BBC Reporting Scotland opened with:

‘A BBC Scotland investigation has found that thousands of incidents have taken place in Scotland’s maternity wards since 2011 ranging from minor mistakes to major errors leading to the deaths of mothers or their babies.’

Just imagine how you’d feel hearing that if you were a midwife or an expectant mother or even a close relative or friend of either? If that’s evidence of a real crisis, then urgent action is needed. If it’s not, then BBC Scotland should pay a heavy price for the most disgusting piece of scaremongering ever.

Amongst the many things the TV broadcast report at 06:26am, did not mention, crucially, is actually on the BBC website version of the story:

‘The Scottish government pointed out that in 2015 the country had recorded its lowest level of stillbirths. Health Secretary Shona Robison also said that there were fewer neonatal deaths and fewer maternal deaths.’

These comments above came after a BBC Scotland Freedom of Information (FOI) request into the number of “adverse events” taking place in maternity units. Crucially, the BBC has put together no formal report here that we can examine. There are no comparative statistics telling us anything meaningful about maternity care in Scotland just sensationalist rotten cherry picking of the kind you’d expect from the Daily Mail.

In this period from 2011, there were ‘serious cases’ (‘adverse events’?) with 26 deaths of newborns, 79 stillbirths and three mothers died. BBC Scotland did not mention that these awful events happened within a total figure of around 250 000 births, in the same period ( So even if we combine the deaths of newborns and the stillbirths we have a mortality-rate due to ‘adverse event’ of 0.042%.

The website version also gives us these salacious details but they are not set in the context of the overall number of births and thus percentage figure. I have.

  • A pregnant woman involved in a “radiation incident”; 0.0004%
  • A newborn baby died due to a spinal cord injury following a forceps delivery; 0.0004%
  • Five reports of staff behaving inappropriately or in a hostile manner; 0.002%
  • Three occasions in 2013 at one hospital when medical equipment “failed” during an operation; 0.0012%
  • More than a dozen [how many then?] medication-related events at one health board including instances where the wrong medication was given, the wrong dosage was administered, and where the medication wasn’t administered at all. 0.0048%

Presenting these incidents as somehow indicative of a wider crisis rather than what they really are, incredibly rare, unavoidable in any system, freak incidents, is utterly irresponsible and so far from any kind of professionalism it beggars belief. I’ve been accused before of suggesting that BBC scare stories about NHS Scotland might actually be putting vulnerable people off approaching reportedly very busy and highly stressed staff and consequently causing deaths. You’ll know that fitness for work testing has now been shown to have caused many suicides amongst disabled people. So, has BBC Scotland’s merciless scare-mongering and flawed reporting, over several years now, about NHS Scotland, caused deaths? Almost certainly it has. As for morale amongst midwives, I can only wonder.

For a reminder of how bad news in the early morning is the most effective propaganda, see:




30 thoughts on “The Power of Early Morning Nightmares and Expectant Mothers: BBC Scotland callously undermines the morale of midwives, their patients, expectant mothers and their relatives, with highly selective and un-contextualised information

  1. Bryan Weir November 22, 2016 / 8:46 am

    If your figures are correct then this is absolutely disgusting! It fills me with revulsion for the BBC but of course, they will not be held accountable. No one will question it in the MSM.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 November 22, 2016 / 9:04 am

      If your figures are correct? They are now. Have a problem knowing my place value


  2. broadbield November 22, 2016 / 8:53 am

    My alarm is set to GMS at 6am for 20 mins dozing before I get up – sometimes it’s like waking up into a nightmare, rather than the other way round. And this morning was a good example. In addition to the report you document there was an “interview” by Hayley Miller with some malcontent who was (self-?) described as a “health campaigner”. It wasn’t an interview, it was a platform for him to make unsubstantiated claims and cast aspersions on the Health Secretary without any attempt by Miller to cross-examine his claims. I’m afraid her incompetence beggers belief. GMS is beyond control in its anti-SNP agenda. What is to be done?

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 November 22, 2016 / 10:36 am

      Thanks. That’s the source i should have listed. In a righteous rage I made arithmetical errors and forgot to reference fully. Baaaad!!!


    • johnrobertson834 November 22, 2016 / 10:38 am

      Interesting the contrast between their online and broadcast coverage. Different editors different anticipated audiences?


      • Clydebuilt November 22, 2016 / 8:14 pm

        Different Anticipated Audiences…… Whatever the Online ED’s views are, they are only allowed to continue in post as the output is not the Great Unwashed (I’ll-informed)……


      • Clydebuilt November 22, 2016 / 8:19 pm

        Different Anticipated audiences……. Whatever the Online ED’s views are…… They are only allowed to continue, given the anticipated audience is not the Great Unwashed ( ill-informed)


  3. Bryan Weir November 22, 2016 / 9:53 am

    There is another point about early morning broadcasts, which may be significant. I would think that they are more likely to be heard by older people who rise early as well as those travelling to work. Perhaps this is a target audience?

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 November 22, 2016 / 10:34 am

      Yes, I agree entirely. Those most easily made anxious about any change especially full independence


      • broadbield November 22, 2016 / 1:02 pm

        …and me. I don’t know about “anxious”, more like incandescent with fury – and just before I go and do my yoga. Not good.

        In the final para of the online story referenced by Bryan Marc Ellison says: “But even as a partial snapshot these figures are rather alarming.” No explanation. No way of challenging his statement. The figures may merit examination, but “alarming”? Not according to Prof’s analysis. And we have no context. What factors may have lead to stillbirths or death of mothers? Could there have been issues unrelated to clinical care? We don’t know, but the implication is that it’s the health care system which is failing.

        Should we be concerned about the way the BBC has positioned itself as an “investigative” reporter? Is this in the Charter? What criteria do they use in making a FOI request? etc, etc.


    • Bryan Weir November 22, 2016 / 2:17 pm

      That’s a good question.I have just emailed them to ask if this information is available.


      • johnrobertson834 November 22, 2016 / 3:06 pm

        I’m just off down to post this by snailmail. Not asking if available but insisting. Cheeky beggar?


    • Bryan Weir November 23, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Looks like the requestor of FOIs cannot be identified. This is the reply.

      “Thank you for your enquiry about published statistics on FOI requests.

      In respect of the Scottish Government all published information can be found at: These webpages contain our annual reports which provide overall totals of requests received (dating from 2005) and include some sector by sector breakdown e.g. percentages from individuals, the media etc.

      On a quarterly basis we also publish request summaries (though these do not identify the requestor).

      If you are interested in statistics from other public authorities you would need to contact them separately. However, you may find it helpful to look at the FOI (and EIR) statistics database on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website: This provides a considerable amount of information collated from public authorities across Scotland.

      I hope this is of assistance.”


      • johnrobertson834 November 24, 2016 / 7:42 am

        Thank you very much for this. I will follow these links up later today.


      • johnrobertson834 November 24, 2016 / 7:44 am

        BBC Scotland have proudly announced that they’ve done the recent ones so it’s all in the public domain. Difficult for them to refuse?


  4. Clydebuilt November 22, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    Would be good to be able to compare Scotland’s Stats with England’s.

    I’m not sure whether the state broadcaster’s efforts will damage morale or generate anger amongst NHS staff……. Could be a wakey wakey moment for a lot of people……

    The BBC are playing a dangerous game with their reputation…. High stakes

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dunphail November 22, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Its a long time since I have watched or listened to a BBC news broadcast in particular if it refers to Scotland or the Scottish Government without a considerable degree of skepticism for the content. In conversation I refer to the Corporation as the State Broadcaster and have little doubt the agenda is to protect their precious “British Way of Life” whatever that is. The impartiality and credibility of many broadcasts vanished during the Referendum never to be recovered. Fortunately we have you (and others) highlighting the duplicity, destroying their propaganda and most importantly providing many others with the ability to challenge the lies.


      • Dunphail November 22, 2016 / 9:08 pm

        Not yet but certainly there is only one direction of travel. The power of social media is making the difference

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bryan Weir November 23, 2016 / 9:50 am

      So far the BBC has accepted no challenge to their lies. They just contemptuously dismiss any suggestion of impartiality. They seem to be beyond criticism.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s