‘Weaponising’ Scotland’s Health Service: How BBC Scotland is developing a new Project Fear: Part 1: 1st to 10th January 2017

It’s only really been today (11.1.17) that UK Labour has started attacking, using it as a weapon, the Tory management of the disaster that is NHS England yet Scottish Labour have been digging furiously for the slightest thing that they can get BBC Scotland to turn into a ‘crisis’ for years now.

I’ve been keeping a note, for Reporting Scotland and STV since 1st January 2017. I plan, of course to release a more full report later but I think there’s a place for interim reports so here’s the first. I’ll be comparing BBC and STV evening news broadcasts to use the latter as a kind of benchmark for what is reasonable and not openly anti-independence propaganda. I’m now fairly sure that STV have made a commercial decision not to drive away their many Yes-supporting viewers, in the interests of maintaining their advertising revenue.

January 1st to 3rd were left alone.


BBC: Operations in Grampian cancelled due to a shortage of theatre nurses and patients not taking drugs properly.

STV: Nothing 


BBC: Nearly 700 patients die in hospital waiting discharge: Labour FoI request; extended

STV: Same story but shorter 


BBC: GP leaders call for more funding for patients in deprived areas

STV: Nothing


BBC: 21 operations cancelled everyday: Labour FoI request

STV: Same story but set in context of only 2% of total 




BBC: Glasgow Drug Fix Rooms (SNP policy) unlikely to reduce drug abuse

STV Nothing


BBC: Call for more funding for research into Type 1 Diabetes

STV: A&E miss waiting time target for week ending January 1st. 92% instead of 95%

So, in 7 days, that’s 7 reports with the potential to undermine Scottish Government management of the NHS, on BBC Reporting Scotland and only 3 on STV. Further, the STV reports have tended to offer more contextual information to put the reports into scale and perspective.

We’re off and running with an NHS scare nearly every day, creating a senses of crisis through repetition, on Reporting Scotland, and more than twice the rate of STV.


3 thoughts on “‘Weaponising’ Scotland’s Health Service: How BBC Scotland is developing a new Project Fear: Part 1: 1st to 10th January 2017

  1. R Gyll January 12, 2017 / 6:04 pm

    Be interested to know John, if there’s ever been an occasion when you’re able to record a positive comment of the SNP government by the BBC? Even when the Scottish NHS is consistently outstripping the performance of all other parts of the UK, with record funding and staffing levels all of which could be worthy of a headline if only for the sake of the staff, the BBC has ignored this despite the fact that NH Services are struggling so badly elsewhere in the UK and the contrast itself is also newsworthy. It’s only ‘on the news’ in Scotland at all because of an opposition statement or criticism and it’s that the BBC headlines.

    Like the tabloid press, it uses the negative opposition criticism in its news trailers and in the opening summary of its bulletins but leaves out the government’s response only including it in the main body of the programme knowing many people will not give the whole programme their full attention. This would perhaps be understandable if it had to compete for viewing figures and advertising revenue but it doesn’t and it should seek work to a higher principle than this.

    I have to say, however, that I’m seeing in general pretty much the same from STV and where they are less critical seems more to do with not having covered the topic rather than giving credit where it’s due.


    • johnrobertson834 January 13, 2017 / 9:40 am

      Strangely, last night’s coverage did give ground on NHS Scotland beibng in better condition so my next piece will do, for the first time, what you asked about. STV do NHS scare stories less often, sometimes just as badly but also sometimes with more balance.


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