*Credit @MoFloMoJo for the clever headline opener.
I’ve already reported on the strong performance of the Scottish Ambulance Service over the festive period. There was no crisis of the kind hoped for by the Unionist media and politicians. Not even one death they could blame on SNP management of the NHS. Predictably, they have scraped the barrel to find something, anything, they can use to worry their audience and to undermine the reputation of the SNP-led government. See:
BBC Scotland news found something which they felt could be built up and stretched into a bad news story. Today we read:
‘Thousands of ambulances dispatched with single crew. More than 10,000 ambulances have been dispatched with one crew member on board in the past four years.’
As we read on we do get a bit of context. With a grim smile we see that the story comes from the Scottish Conservatives. Don’t BBC Scotland have any reporters out there finding stories for themselves? What are we paying them for? We, also read, now that the headline, which many only read, has had its hoped-for impact, that this accounted for only 1.5% of shifts or 2 204 out of around a quarter of a million shifts in total, in 2016.
Also, we see that this figure is down from 3 514 in the previous year but are not offered the percentage reduction. I wonder why not? It turns out to be an impressive 37% reduction worthy of a headline itself, I’d say.
So, it’s not a big story in a quantitative sense but there’s worse than this dishonest inflation of the issue, in the language used in the headline to sensationalise, to distort, to scare and to undermine.
The headline refers to ‘single crew’ rather than ‘single paramedic’, a highly-skilled person and trained well-beyond that of most nurses or GPs to deal with emergencies and to save lives. This is important.
Second, the headline refers to ‘10 000 ambulances’ when it should refer to ‘call-outs’, painting a picture of a flood of separate single-crewed vehicles when often it would have been the same ambulance and the same paramedic called out several times in a single shift and, we must assume, sent to the cases identified by the shift supervisory staff, as manageable by a single paramedic.
Are there even 10 000 ambulances across the whole country?
Remember, we’re talking about 2 204 such call-outs in the last year or 6 in a night. In an 8-hour-shift, it seems quite plausible that it could be the same ambulance and paramedic sent to these call-outs where one paramedic was thought to be able to cope. If the truth is anything like this then we’re talking about 365 single-paramedic ambulances going out in a year and maybe 1 500 over the four years. You can see why they chose to put 10 000 ambulances into the headline.
Finally, the decision to use the four-year figure of 10 000 rather than that for the most recent year, 2 204, is a clear case of deliberate sensationalism designed to inflate and to titillate those in need of anti-SNP stimulation. Given that the figure changes from year to year, the four-year figure has no information value.
As NHS England doctors start to report ‘third-world conditions’, you can see why BBC Scotland News and its political bottom-feeders panicked and started to thrash around in the mud looking for anything they could find to attack the SNP with.