This is good news. Scottish NHS office staff volunteer to take on cleaning duties as demand soars. Is it more evidence of a difference in us?


This is all over the Scottish and UK media including the Times and the Telegraph.

NHS Lanarkshire asked its office staff to consider volunteering to help with cleaning duties as pressure on its frontline departments soared during the festive period.

There was a ‘tremendous’ response across the three affected hospitals including Wishaw General. I have family connections in Wishaw. So far, I’ve only read of what might be a great nephew arrested for firearms offences, so this helps to balance my impressions of the toon.

BBC Scotland, like most of the others, used the story as an excuse to quickly move to, and to spend more time on, reports that ‘some’ health boards were postponing elective operations and that A&E targets were being missed. Mind you, if you read nearly to the bottom you’d see that NHS Tayside actually surpassed the target with 96% seen in four hours or less.

Most reports, with Scottish Tory, Labour and/or Lib Dem voices crying in the background, found a way to turn this into a failure of NHS Scotland to cope with soaring demand, desperately trying to associate Scotland with the all-too-real crisis in NHS England.

The Torygraph, not surprisingly turned this good news into evidence of a crisis with:

‘Office workers at Scottish health board redeployed to hospital cleaning amid NHS ‘meltdown’

I suspect many Torygraph readers will have reacted with disgust at this headline while I, as many of you I think would have, felt a warm glow. As you know there has been no such thing as a ‘meltdown’ in NHS Scotland though it might be a reasonably accurate way of describing some parts of NHS England after years of Tory misrule. Does anyone really think we should staff hospitals, year-long, at the maximum level required for surges in demand of up to 40 or 50%? Also, is actually coping, as they did, somehow a failure because they asked the team to pull together in extreme times? It doesn’t seem like that to me. It seems a glowing success rich in human behaviour at its very best. Had NHS Lanarkshire turned patients away in droves or spent millions on temporary staff, would the media have treated them more kindly? I doubt it very much.

Finally, is this another wee indicator that we are just a bit different in how we do things and different enough to want to run our own show, foregrounding a different set of values? I searched but could find no comparable case in England. How would the office staff of Buckinghamshire have reacted? See these earlier pieces on this theme:

In a year of terrible events, we can still feel that this wee country is getting better as it drifts away from the callous, post-imperial, values of Tory Britain

Scots more likely to give to charities, to volunteer or to sponsor others

Scottish Government to fight alongside UN to defend disabled against Tory cuts.

Could Scotland end homelessness?

Scotland has lower poverty rates than England: JRF Excerpt 1

If you search the blog for the word ‘different’ you’ll get many more pieces of evidence for this idea.


12 thoughts on “This is good news. Scottish NHS office staff volunteer to take on cleaning duties as demand soars. Is it more evidence of a difference in us?

  1. Alan Gordon January 4, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    Thanks John for the post(s). A warming story. The staff deed needs to be recognised for the action is was not the demonstration of failure it was made out to be. I would include all our SNHS staff in our applause.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. macgilleleabhar January 4, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    I am impressed with the commitment these fine people have to the Scottish National Health Service and there colleagues. You describe them as a team and that is how it comes across to me, supporting each other any way that you can. IT says something for NHS Scotland as well.
    I seem to remember an SNP MP standing in for her ex colleagues in Ayrshire to give them some quality time off at the festive period being traduced by the MSM detritus worms claiming she was moonlighting for cash. I saw it as a win ,win, win situation where people got quality time off, a surgeon kept her skills up to date and the hospitals kept their schedules.
    A moments thought on the MSM stories gives you an insight into the type of sad people they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 4, 2018 / 11:57 pm

      Yes, though the junior staff are victims too, under pressure from editors to toe the party line.


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 5, 2018 / 5:01 pm

        You might be right about this, John.

        In tonight’s Evening Times there are two reports by the same journalist, one is on the NHS matter which is the subject of your article and the other is about forthcoming roadworks on the Kingston Bridge. The articles are pretty straightforwardly factual. However, the headlines and sub headlines imply something baaaaaaad.

        The Bridge one is headlined on the front page and on the article as ‘Months of Misery’, yet the article actually reports that the bridge, being 50 years old (I know, I worked on it as a student!) and carrying considerably more traffic than was forecast requires essential maintenance. Prior warning has been given. The Bridge will not be closed although traffic flow will be constrained and there is advice to drivers as to what to do – allow more time, use public transport, use park-and-ride, taking advantage of flexitime if your contract permits it, etc. It is a pretty fair factual piece which provides sound advice to the local populace. Yet, we have the heading which is clearly intended to put the reader in an angry, persecuted mindset.

        I chose the motoring one rather than the NHS one simply because it is not directly ‘political’ in the way the NHS one has become because it demonstrates the seemingly habitual practice of presenting things negatively.

        The NHS article is reasonably fair reporting on the epidemic and the additional work done by staff. It highlights the fact that 15 operations were cancelled on the day at the Southern General and has a vox pop by one of the disgruntled patients and an hearsay piece allegedly from a medic about the admin staff. On balance, it is more negative than the motoring article, but, on the whole is reasonably factual. The choice of headline focuses on the negative.

        So, you might well be right that the reporter has had no say in what the headlines will be and her copy might well have been edited to point up some of the negative aspects.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald January 5, 2018 / 5:07 pm

        Sorry, a point I had omitted: re the 15 operations cancelled yesterday – there was no indication of how many operations are cancelled on a normal day. Some years ago, my wife was scheduled for elective surgery on her leg and twice there were late cancellations. In one case she was actually on the trolley ready to be rolled into the theatre when ambulances appeared with a couple of life threatening injuries from a road accident. Having got herself mentally prepared for the surgery, she was a bit miffed at not getting it, but, she accepted that this was an emergency while hers wasn’t. On another occasion, she had been dealt with promptly because of a detached retina and this required rescheduling of theatres. You win some you lose some.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Graemeo Rab January 5, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    Great to see the truth hi-lighted. I have often thought that Volunteer duty/service could be used in a National service kind of manner with regards a Nation’s Core Value Sectors .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clydebuilt January 5, 2018 / 1:23 pm

    BBC Radio Shortbread John Beattie’s show interviewed Alyson Pollock (Health Economist) . . . Stated several times that England’s NHS is in a terrible state compared to Scotland’s . . . . . England abolished their NHS in a 2012 Westminister Bill . . . pushing the myth that pensioners are a ticking time bomb is a con, it’s a decision for politicians to make whether they are prepared to fund the system . . . . The NHS was established when the country was on its knees after WW2 so if that was possible looking after OAP’s today is also possible.

    After this John Beattie read out a text . . . It went something like this . . . . . It’s wrong to compare Scotland with England, we should compare Scotland with the best in the World. It’s Seperatist trick/con to compare Scotland with England . . . . The new fake news.

    Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 January 5, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      Beattie claims not to believe it’s propaganda. He must be getting it now.


      • Clydebuilt January 5, 2018 / 9:46 pm

        Aye John, I’d imagine he can’t publicly say his employer broadcasts propaganda. . . . But can’t see any other news anchor giving Alyson Pollock free reign as he did . . . He’s too big to give into trouble . . .


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 6, 2018 / 11:48 am

        In a recent programme he had Stuart Cosgrove and a couple of others on and he allowed them pretty free rein to delve into matters which other interviewers would have interrupted persistently to force the discussion on to the preordained track. I heard an example yesterday regarding coffee cup recycling and the views of a Westminster Committee. One of the two people brought in to comment mentioned positively the actions of Holyrood. This was completely blanked. It was as if the person had not made any comment.

        Liked by 1 person

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