STV falls for Tory misrepresentation of scale and effects of hospital bed reductions as NHS Scotland exceeds NHS England provision by 50%



Under the headline:

‘Number of available hospital beds plummets in five years. The Scottish Conservatives say it is easy to see why NHS ‘horror stories’ happen.’

STV went on to allow the ill-informed views of Tory shadow health secretary, Miles Briggs (above), to completely misrepresent the scale and the effects of a small reduction in the number of beds available in Scottish hospitals and dominate the narrative unchallenged. From their report, here are the figures:

‘Statistics released by NHS Scotland’s information services division show the number of beds has declined by 1672 to 21,340, a fall of 7.3%, since 2012-13.’

So, the number of beds has been falling, not really ‘plummeting’, at around 2.4% per year. Several paragraphs later, the Health Secretary was able to offer some context for this, but the headlines and the Tory rant had done their damage by then:

‘We have seen a significant 10% reduction in length of stay in hospital for elective admissions since 2011/12 and there are also signs that the growth in emergency admissions is slowing year on year – which is good for patients.’

So, in a comparable period, the length of stay has been reducing by 10% and the number of beds by 7.3%. This looks like a plan rather than neglect. Indeed, in England, the Kings Fund has reported and explained an even larger fall:

  1. The total number of NHS hospital beds in England, including general and acute, mental illness, learning disability, maternity and day-only beds, has more than halved over the past 30 years, from around 299,000 to 142,000, while the number of patients treated has increased significantly.
  2. Since 1987/8, the largest percentage reductions in bed numbers have occurred in mental illness and learning disability beds as a result of long-term policies to move these patients out of hospital and provide care in the community.
  3. The number of general and acute beds has fallen by 43 per cent since 1987/8, the bulk of this fall due to closures of beds for the long-term care of older people. Medical innovation, including an increase in day-case surgery, has also had an impact by reducing the time that many patients spend in hospital.

In brief, many more patients, especially the elderly and those with mental health problems, are being treated in the community and, logically, funds are being transferred from hospital beds to community care.

Finally, there are:

21 340 beds in Scotland or 1 bed for every 248 people

142 000 beds in England or 1 bed for every 373 people.

That means provision of beds in Scottish hospitals, regardless of the above transfers to community care, remains 50% higher than in England.

The STV report fails on three counts. It allows unsubstantiated rumours from an opposition politician to set the tone and to dominate the influential headline. It does not give sufficient attention to other rational reasons for falling numbers of beds in hospitals. Finally, it does not contextualise the Scottish situation in terms of the dramatically worse one in England.

So it goes?


13 thoughts on “STV falls for Tory misrepresentation of scale and effects of hospital bed reductions as NHS Scotland exceeds NHS England provision by 50%

  1. Bugger (the Panda) December 30, 2017 / 10:52 am

    How many “journalists” PRs etc are employed in the Scottish Office. Well into double figure?

    So they write up the lies, pass them over to the dumbass MPs/MSPs who get a Newspaper to print in verbatim, or even just tinker withe grammar.

    That is a conspiracy and remember the BBC wants to help local newspapers by sharing local news.

    Stitch up coming in IndyRef 2

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ian December 30, 2017 / 10:56 am

    Sadly STV are every bit as much as BBC and the rest manipulated by and for Westminster’s agenda. Lord Haw Haw ( of WW2 fame) would be proud of Her Majesty’s Governments total control of the British State media propaganda machine

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 December 30, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Had thought they might not want to annoy all the Yes-supporters given they are a business reliant on advertising.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Angry Weegie December 30, 2017 / 11:27 am

    Your headline suggests STV were conned. Experience suggests they are normally quite happy to spread a bunch of SNP bad lies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald December 30, 2017 / 12:15 pm

      I think you are right.We have tended to look at bias in BBC Scotland, and have not looked closely enough at lapses by STV, because earlier analyses by John Robertson during 2014 tended to show STV was considerably better balanced in its reporting.

      Remember the recent question to an academic when he debunked a unionist claim, “You’re not a member of the SNP are you?” So, perhaps there has been some kind of change, but we might be being susceptible to ‘confirmation of paranoia bias’!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlie December 30, 2017 / 11:41 am

    What are the press watchdogs doing about this? Absolutely nothing. Yet another bunch of bureaucrats that we pay for and nothing to show for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Zander December 31, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    New year’s resolution, to tell every Indy supporter about this site.
    Excellent info

    Liked by 1 person

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