I can’t find overall figures for transfers from English hospitals to Scottish ones but the level of transfers from Oxfordshire to Scotland is a useful comparison. According to Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton, via STV, 625 patients were transferred to English hospitals in 2016/2017 and he says:
‘We need to know whether the significant rise in patients being sent outside Scotland is a consequence of SNP ministers’ failures.’
In the same period, in only one English county, Oxfordshire, nearly 500 [mental health] patients had to travel to Scotland for treatment. Some had to make the 532 miles journey to Inverness! Oxfordshire’s population of around 690 000 is around one eighth of Scotland’s. There are roughly ten times as many hospital patients in England as there are in Scotland.
Also, in the same year, we could read in the Guardian:
‘NHS England sending anorexic patients to Scotland for treatment. Mental health experts voice concern over growing trend and say it could increase vulnerable patients’ chances of dying The NHS in England has far too few beds to cope with rising numbers of eating disorders, doctors say. The NHS in England is sending patients who are seriously ill with eating disorders to Scotland for treatment because chronic bed shortages mean they cannot be cared for in England. Vulnerable patients, mainly teenagers and young adults, are being taken hundreds of miles from their homes in order to receive residential care in Glasgow and near Edinburgh.’
With even more drama, as you might expect from a Daily Mail headline, some English patients are not even waiting for a transfer:
‘Move to Scotland or go blind: English patients are being forced to leave the country to get drugs to treat a rare eye condition.’
Needless to say, there’s none of the above context in the STV piece and as in their piece recently on hospital bed reductions, the opposition politician gets many paragraphs to rant before we get a response from the Scottish Government by which time the headline and the rant has made it unlikely that any reader will be of a mind to adjust their views. Here’s what they are allowed to say in the last two paragraphs:
‘In response to the figures, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Spending on this very specialist care represents just 0.1% of the record £47.4bn investment in the NHS over the last four years, and a tiny proportion of the total number of procedures carried out in the NHS, which reached a record of one million inpatient procedures, last year. As complexity of healthcare increases and costs rise it is right that very specialised care for procedures such as lung transplants, is occasionally provided at specialist centres outwith Scotland to allow expertise to be concentrated and patients and families to be treated in quality settings.’
So, once again, pretty shoddy journalism, lacking the kind of balance, context, evidence, and fairness I’d have required of a bare pass for a 1st Year BA Journalism student, in first semester! Counting the headline, there are 11 short paragraphs/statements critical of the Scottish Government, before the 12th and 13th are given to any alternative explanation. I’ve changed my mind. It’s a fail. Come and see me to talk about transferring to Business Studies or Accounting.
That’s let a Tory rant yesterday and let a Lib Dem rant today?
Finally, as for Alex Cole-Hamilton, see: