STV shamelessly allows Lib Dem MSP to distort scale of transfers to NHS England as a single English county sends 500 back.


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?

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

Finally, as for Alex Cole-Hamilton, see:

Herald Newspaper and STV News fooled by unqualified, inexperienced professor and Lib Dem supporter/MSP’s dad into attacking Scottish schools’ methods


7 thoughts on “STV shamelessly allows Lib Dem MSP to distort scale of transfers to NHS England as a single English county sends 500 back.

  1. Alasdair Macdonald December 31, 2017 / 12:14 pm

    Because of our focus on the bias of BBC Scotland, have we let STV pass under the radar, perhaps because your analyses c2014 had indicated better balance in their reporting, and, to be frank, the better quality of most of their news and current affairs staff. (My daughter was a researcher for a Spanish academic c2009 who was studying the Scottish media and she formed the impression that the STV staff were considerably more professional than those further west on Pacific Quay)?

    Or has there been some changes in personnel, particularly at a senior level which has brought about a policy change? Or, perhaps, staff reductions have resulted in the unexamined recycling of part political handouts?

    On a different matter: All the best to you for the New Year and I hope you are able to continue to unearth the kinds of stories which give the lie to ‘too wee and no very good’ and counter the continual diet of shock, horror, disaster, fiasco, slamming, etc. All the best and grateful thanks.


  2. johnrobertson834 December 31, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Thanks and all the very best to you and yours. Re STV, I did demonstrate that their broadcasts in the run up to the last general election were reasonably fair and I put this down to them being a business that wouldn’t want to alienate half of its viewers. However, these two website reports have been particularly unfair. Perhaps this is down to one individual relatively unsupervised? Notably, the BBC website has for some time been much better than the radio or TV broadcasts.


    • Alasdair Macdonald December 31, 2017 / 6:08 pm

      The ‘rogue’ individual with regard to STV online is not a new phenomenon. A previous incumbent became quite arrogant using it as a personal channel of communication. Of course, hubris got him, but, of course, his unionist China’s presented this as the SNP leaning on STV, rather than STV, entirely correctly, judging this as a threat to its requirement to be impartial and because it recognised he was using it for personal reasons ……. just as Mr Damian Green appears to have been doing with HMG computers.


  3. broadbield December 31, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    I’d suggest they/she/he transfer to Creative Accounting, courses run by the Big 4 who know all about creating fictional stories, or Junk Economics under Prof Michael Hudson who will soon put them in their place.

    Can I echo Alasdair’s comments in the final paragraph. If you didn’t exist we’d have to invent you.


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