A presumably competent doctor but definitely a trades union guy with an ‘axe to grind’ is allowed to distort the reality of NHS Scotland and to malign the SNP Government’s management of it

The Herald headlined today with:

‘SNP priorities on health all wrong, warns leading Scots doctor’

The BBC website unsurprisingly echoed the story with:

‘BMA leader warns NHS struggling to cope’

Here we go again; the forces of Unionism never sleep.

I’ll get to the main point soon but I need to deal with the ‘leading scots doctor’ bit first. Peter Bennie is chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish branch. I’ve had a wee search but I can find no sign of him being a leading doctor. There’s no sign of awards for exceptional practice nor research publications presenting cutting-edge findings to move practice on nor is there even sign of him having managed anything much. It looks like he might be a leading trades unionist though, again, he’s no Bob Crowe, late of the RMT and the BMA Scotland is pretty wee. If he’s leading anything it’s in an essentially political role and not medical role so he’s not a ‘leading doctor.’

I’m not knocking being a trade union leader by any means. I was a lifelong member of the teachers’ EIS union. I remember many of its ‘leaders’ at different levels. Often good trades unionists, I don’t remember any of them have been leading educationists. They were usually people who had become more interested in the political role of the unions and gradually rose within those organisations on the basis of popularity.

So Doctor Bennie is primarily getting attention in the Scottish mainstream (Unionist) media because he is a trade unionist in a union with a posh sounding and very Unionist sounding, name.

Right, on the main point – what are the actual priorities that he says the SNP is getting ‘all wrong?’ Well, he’s a bit short on detail and just seems to want more money spent on NHS Scotland. He doesn’t for example have anything to say about the big SNP priority of integrating social and health care which is receiving praise (https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/integrated-care-northern-ireland-scotland-and-wales?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=socialshare)

and looks like working in terms of, for example, reducing bed blocking by the elderly in the way English hospitals are being paralysed by. So, like all trades unionists, he asks his members if they want more money and resources and they say yes, please. Is that how he thinks you run anything at all?

Back in June, I posted a list, fully sourced, of fifteen ways in which NHS Scotland was doing well, by UK and global comparison, regardless of his judgement that more cash was needed or we’d be heading for a crisis. I’ll repeat the link for them at the bottom of this. First, though, here’s a novel idea. Here are some things that NHS Scotland, thanks to the Scottish Government, is NOT doing….badly….unlike Tory-managed NHS England:

  1. We’ve had NO junior doctors’ strikes causing thousands of cancelled and delayed operations because the SNP unlike the UK Tories haven’t tried to bully them into new contracts. Thank goodness for BBC News at 6 telling us this because Reporting Scotland won’t touch the story with a disinfected endoscopic probe.
  2. NHS Scotland has NOT been cancelling large numbers of urgent operations like NHS England (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/24/number-of-urgent-operations-cancelled-record-high-nhs-england). If they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  3. Scottish hospitals have NOT been told to put thousands of operations ‘on hold’ over Xmas and New Year to ‘free up beds.’ (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/16/hospitals-in-england-told-to-put-operations-on-hold-to-free-up-beds). Again, if they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
  4. There is NO social care and bed-blocking crisis in Scotland because the Scottish Government has been integrating the two for years now (https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/dec/21/theresa-may-recognises-social-care-crisis-but-solution-seems-far-off)
  5. Bed blocking by the elderly is down 12% in Scotland (http://www.scotsman.com/news/bed-blocking-in-scottish-hospitals-continues-to-fall-1-4160213) and up 80% in England for the same reason (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/10/tory-plans-making-social-care-worse?CMP=share_btn_tw)
  6. There’s NO evidence of a crisis in Scottish Maternity wards despite a shamefully distorted Reporting Scotland story (https://thoughtcontrolscotland.com/2016/11/22/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/)

So, as so often before, the Unionist media shamelessly ‘weaponise’ NHS Scotland with apparently no care for the possible effects on anxious prospective patients. Who knows how many they’ve scared into delaying requests for treatment.

Finally, here’s the link for the list of 15 I published in June:


Take care, everyone. Don’t let the bastards grind us down.


15 thoughts on “A presumably competent doctor but definitely a trades union guy with an ‘axe to grind’ is allowed to distort the reality of NHS Scotland and to malign the SNP Government’s management of it

  1. Bryan Weir December 28, 2016 / 9:36 am

    I note that the BBC is giving some prominence today to a story about a study by Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian Universities on how the media reports drinking habits. It even includes references into how they arrived at their findings.

    It’s a pity they did not see your research for UWS on how the media was biased in reporting on the Scottish Government as being of any importance.

    Possibly a good example of how their minds work.



  2. johnrobertson834 December 28, 2016 / 10:42 am

    Thanks. Yes they’re more than happy to be fair to women, gays or any group discriminated against except proIndy folk.


  3. Pedantic December 28, 2016 / 12:29 pm

    He’s a Trade Unionist and not a TradeS Unionist.


    • johnrobertson834 December 29, 2016 / 9:43 am

      Well, I’m not so sure. MS Word doesn’t like trades unionist but I go back some way and remain sure it should be trades unionist or was back in the day. Try Googling ‘trade unionist or trades unionist’ and you’ll find both used.

      So Pedantic?


  4. yesindyref2 December 28, 2016 / 1:07 pm

    The Scotsman covered it better John, and I think Bennie is probably saying what he should do, and needs to do. From memory in the past, he’s not unsympathetic to Independence or the SNP, and his comments seem to have included a warning for Scotland NOT to go the same way as the rest of the UK in tgerms of privatisation. From the Scotsman, he seems to have had more of a go at the opposition rather than the SNP:

    “The Scottish Government is also pushing ahead with plans to centralise services in regional centres of excellence. A recent move to axe baby surgery for cleft pallets in Edinburgh and move it to Glasgow is how many services are expected to be run in the future.

    Surgical chiefs back such developments, arguing centres of excellence mean better outcomes for patients and Dr Bennie hit out at opposition politicians for making political capital out of the issue.”

    It’s the way media misrepresents everything it can get its hands on, and I think we need to be very careful at times to make sure we shoot the “pass it on” distorting messenger, not the actual message or messenger!


    • johnrobertson834 December 29, 2016 / 9:33 am

      And, he must know how it would contribute to the debate over the competence and thus electibility of the SNP.


  5. Clydebuilt December 28, 2016 / 7:26 pm

    Early in the day I heard Bennie say things in Scotland and England started deteriorating with the implementation of Austerity policies. This was removed with each passing news report.
    They (BBC Scotland employees) get interviews early on and massage them continuously through the day.

    Good to see you back John firing on several cylinders…….


  6. johnrobertson834 December 29, 2016 / 9:36 am

    I’m sorry if he deserved less direct attack but in the bigger picture, I regret he put himself in the firing line but the movement matters more than one nice but dim guy. We have to hit them every time we can.


    • Clydebuilt December 29, 2016 / 11:41 am

      After seeing what the media do with his public statements, he has a choice to make.
      Hard to imagine being a union rep for the BMA is naive politically.


    • Clydebuilt December 29, 2016 / 11:43 am

      Well if you’re a Kawasaki triple from the 1970’s then 2’ll do.


      • johnrobertson834 December 29, 2016 / 11:52 am

        Had a shot on one of them back in 75. Scared me pooless. Owner said he couldn’t ride it near any American warship bases in case it attacked.


      • Clydebuilt December 29, 2016 / 2:27 pm

        Back in the day the Honda 500 Twin was known as “the Brown Bomber”…… Clearly a different world from the present…..
        Vibrated like hell, ate speedos.

        Liked by 1 person

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