(c) Brian Monteith from https://twitter.com/thebluetrot
Under a headline and a mugshot, in today’s Scotsman, a right-wing extremist Tory writes:
‘Brian Monteith: SNP will be under fire for handling of NHS: This tactic of deflection has now worn thin and the evidence that Scotland’s NHS is in really serious trouble is growing. The reason for this is not just that the evidence shows it is true, but that the Conservative and Labour opposition are both using Freedom of Information requests and highly embarrassing Audit Scotland reports to bombard Scottish Health secretary Shona Robison with exposés of failures on the SNP’s watch.’
Monteith was a Tory MSP from 1999 to 2007. He used to work for the openly Thatcherite, Centre for Policy Studies. After that, he worked for Michael Forsyth Associates and even shared a flat with Forsyth. He then set up his PR company, Leith Communications which went bust in the 1990s owing more than £50 000 to its creditors.
He’s clearly a man, we’d walk miles to hear him talk about how he’s going to ……. go away?
Anyhow, back to the quote. The ‘tactic of deflection’ he’s talking about is those comparisons of NHS Scotland with NHS England that many of us use as a guide, if only partial, to the state of NHS Scotland. It’s called context and it’s a widely used tactic used by groups such as the Centre for Policy Studies. I have a feeling that if NHS England was demonstrably doing better than NHS Scotland, the tactic would be more than popular with the Tories in Scotland. The current tactic is ‘find anything, no matter how insignificant or how localised’ and make a crisis out of that.
I’ll let him have his way on this. He doesn’t like comparisons with NHS England, so here are a few which don’t have them and the first is from Audit Scotland and far from embarrassing:
Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’
As I looked through my archives, I can see why the comparisons with England are not popular with the Tories and why they had to think of a name to discredit them with. See this just from the beginning of the year. Many more could be added but I don’t want the tactic to look too thick and unworn:
- We’ve had nothing you could call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in NHS Scotland. Red Cross chief executive, Mike Adamson, said: ‘The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country [England].’ Indeed there is no evidence of anything like a system wide crisis in Scotland. Reporting Scotland have scrabbled around for something/anything as in their sad Twitter plea for pregnant mothers who have been inconvenienced which found five who had to travel an extra 7 miles for a bed. See: https://thoughtcontrolscotland.com/2017/01/14/have-you-been-affected-by-the-death-of-journalism-by-lazy-social-media-stalkers-let-us-know-your-story-bbc-reporting-scotlands-desperate-trawl-for-dirt-on-nhs-scotland/
- We’ve had NO junior doctors’ strikes causing thousands of cancelled and delayed operations because the SNP unlike the UK Tories haven’t tried to bully them into new contracts. Thank goodness for BBC News at 6 telling us this because Reporting Scotland won’t touch the story with a disinfected endoscopic probe.
- NHS Scotland has NOT been cancelling large numbers of urgent operations like NHS England (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/24/number-of-urgent-operations-cancelled-record-high-nhs-england). If they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
- Scottish hospitals have NOT been told to put thousands of operations ‘on hold’ over Xmas and New Year to ‘free up beds.’ (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/16/hospitals-in-england-told-to-put-operations-on-hold-to-free-up-beds). Again, if they had, do you think Reporting Scotland would have neglected to tell us?
- There is NO social care and bed-blocking crisis in Scotland because the Scottish Government has been integrating the two for years now (https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/dec/21/theresa-may-recognises-social-care-crisis-but-solution-seems-far-off)
- Bed blocking by the elderly is down 12% in Scotland (http://www.scotsman.com/news/bed-blocking-in-scottish-hospitals-continues-to-fall-1-4160213) and up 80% in England for the same reason (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/10/tory-plans-making-social-care-worse?CMP=share_btn_tw)
- There’s NO evidence of a crisis in Scottish Maternity wards despite a shamefully distorted Reporting Scotland story (https://thoughtcontrolscotland.com/2016/11/22/the-power-of-early-morning-nightmares-and-expectant-mothers-bbc-scotland-callously-undermines-the-morale-of-midwives-their-patients-expectant-mothers-and-their-relatives-with-highly-selective-and/)
Who is next, Scotsman: Damien Green on the pornography crisis at Holyrood?