Scotsman fulfils its role of passive organ for the Tory Party’s Miles Briggs as he stupidly suggests NHS Scotland can learn from demonstrably inferior Norwegian health service


(c) News Group Newspapers Ltd

On 30th December, STV uncritically allowed the ill-informed views of Tory shadow health secretary, Miles Briggs (above), to completely misrepresent the scale and the effects of a small reduction in the number of beds available in Scottish hospitals. See:

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

Today, the Scotsman lazily takes its turn to act as the uncritical friend, for any Unionist party with another free story, from Briggs, of how ‘Scotland should look to Norway to help our ailing NHS.’

He wrote:

‘On a recent trip to Norway, I saw first-hand how the country has been able to eradicate delayed discharge – they have a fully integrated patient information system so that doctors and carers are able to see live information on people to deliver the best care and perhaps most importantly take into account what care and support patients want.’

Now, neither Miles nor the Scotsman offer any hard research evidence. We just have to take his word based on a wee trip and being shown, presumably, a few good examples. However, when I saw the Norwegian link, I immediately remembered a 2015 research study from the US Commonwealth Foundation which did not rate their service as highly as the NHS (all of it). I’ll return to that below. However, I thought I should find something more recent too. See this on delayed discharge in Norway, from 2016. Titled Using fees to reduce bed-blocking: A game between hospitals and care providers’ by Snorre Kverndokk (it is quite a sleep-inducing read) and Hans Olav Melberg, the research is very critical of the system being used in Norway to achieve the results Miles Briggs was so enamoured with. There’s a strong hint in the title. Here are two short extracts from the conclusions:

‘To reduce bed-blocking, a fee was introduced (NOK 4000) that the municipalities have to pay the hospitals for patients who are ready to be discharged to municipal care services, but unable to leave because the municipalities do not provide the necessary services. To be eligible to receive the fee, the hospitals have to notify the municipalities in advance of patients who need municipal services. In this case, the fee applies from the first day the patient is considered ready to be discharged.’ (p27)

So, using Scottish terminology, our local authorities would have to pay a fee to our hospitals if they could not accommodate the patients being discharged. Reading on, we see:

‘The increase in municipal activity was almost the double of what is indicated by the net effect. One interpretation of the results may be that the financial incentives count more than the health incentives.’ (p28)

So, the hospital management is incentivised to discharge as many patients as possible and as early as possible to get as much income from the local authorities as they can. That’s just what happened in Norway.

Imagine the Unionist media reaction to such a scandal in Scotland?

There’s more. A 2015 study of primary care in ten countries carried out by the Commonwealth Foundation in New York found the NHS across the UK to be better than most and, notably, better than that in Norway on most indicators. See these few examples especially relevant to this topic of discharges and care in the community:

  1. Primary Care Doctors’ Communication with Emergency Department and Hospital: Percent who report they always receive notification when a patient is seen in the ED and when a patient is discharged from the hospital: UK 32%, Norway 25%
  2. Practice Uses Nurses or Case Managers to Monitor and Manage Care for Patients with Chronic Conditions: UK 96%, Norway 65%
  3. Practice Staff Frequently Make Home Visits: UK 84%, Norway 20%
  4. Doctor Routinely Receives Computerized Reminder for Guideline-Based Intervention or Screening Test: UK 77%, Norway 10%

Footnote: I was able to get a breakdown of the UK data to reveal that NHS Scotland was the best-performing of the four UK areas. To read more on this see:

Scottish GPs: Most satisfied and least stressed in the UK and possibly the world

I rest my case.


14 thoughts on “Scotsman fulfils its role of passive organ for the Tory Party’s Miles Briggs as he stupidly suggests NHS Scotland can learn from demonstrably inferior Norwegian health service

  1. Alasdair Macdonald January 13, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    An excellent rapid rebuttal – well done!

    A couple of points:

    1. I am pleased to see your and other bloggers’ increased scrutiny of STV recently, because we have tended to view BBC Scotland as the principal propagandists.

    2. Because so many bloggers and newspaper letter writers have rebutted the concerted unionist attack on NHS Scotland, by indicating how much better Scotland is doing compared to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, he is trying to cite evidence from outwith the UK. This is probably because they think we are unable to get data about ‘foreign’ places and also because we pro-independence supporters regularly (and with justification) cite the Nordic nations as examples of small countries who do well, we will accept this uncritically.

    3. It is obvious what the attraction for Mr Briggs is – it is about using the ‘pricing mechanism’ to resolve problems. This is a classic and repeatedly ASSERTED (evidence is pretty thin) claim that the invisible hand of the market will solve things. So, he is pushing the Tories privatisation agenda.

    4. He has not mentioned Norway’s Sovereign Fund from oil and gas revenues.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Alasdair Macdonald January 13, 2018 / 5:40 pm

    It is undoubtedly my prurient mind, but it looks as if THE COLONEL and Mr Briggs are engaging in a bit of SM. I am sure your choice of illustration has accidentally had this implication.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 13, 2018 / 6:53 pm

      S&M? Reminds me of the time my VP was searching for CBT on her computer and found there were two types – cognitive behavioural therapy and cock and ball torture! She ordered the technicians to remove all traces from the world-wide-web!


      • macgilleleabhar January 13, 2018 / 10:03 pm

        It has been suggested that House Boy could be an apt title for most Unionist males, Muddle being top of the list but this guy looks to be catching up from behind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald January 13, 2018 / 10:14 pm

        Sometimes when I hear of some of these S&M practices I wonder why anyo person in her or his right mind would participate.i had never heard of THAT CBT, but when I read your words I winced and instinctively put my hands down for protection, like a football wall facing a free kick!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. daibhidhdeux January 13, 2018 / 6:40 pm

    Mmm… Alasdair. Good point: A bit of bottom slapping see me to fit in well with their bottom feeder political agenda.


    • johnrobertson834 January 13, 2018 / 6:54 pm

      Did you mean ‘see me’? My impression of Alasdair is different.


  4. Clydebuilt January 13, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    Noticed Hunt quoting the Commonwealth Fund in recent TV interview, claiming it found that the NHS was the best in the world. As I remember, the CF found that Scotland’s NHS was the best in the UK. Why have the SNP not quoted the CF?
    Recent wings polling found that Scots thought their NHS was better than England’s . . . . But only slightly, . . . the Scot. Gov are doing a brilliant job at running our health service, . . . need to improve at defending their record in Government

    Liked by 1 person

    • gavin January 14, 2018 / 9:40 am

      “defending their record”–totally agree. An instant rebuttal unit is a must with our negative media. Get your retaliation in first, as the Mighty Mouse once said.

      Why is Miles is his swimming trunks? Surely a French Maid outfit would be a must for “spanking”?
      The lessons they learn at Public Schools……………….!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clydebuilt January 14, 2018 / 10:28 am

        Needs to be a well informed “Instant Rebutal Unit” has the SNP heard of the Commonwealth Fund. . . . Do they read this blog?

        Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 14, 2018 / 11:01 am

      The CF didn’t publish a UK breakdown. I had to request the data and do it myself. So it became that mad prof again even though I offered to share the original data..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clydebuilt January 14, 2018 / 8:32 pm

        That says it all John . . . You did it , the SNP didn’t . . . And after it was done for them . . . I have’nt heard them refer to it!

        Liked by 1 person

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