BBC Scotland made much, this morning, of the warning from the trades union, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (in Scotland?), that ‘paediatricians in Scotland are under too much pressure and need more resources.’ In a remarkably long piece for a two to three-minute insert in BBC1 Breakfast, the fake crisis warning was then repeated a further five times before 9am. We also heard, in most of these, that they want the number of consultants quadrupled (more on this below) and that they can’t carry on.
The Scottish Government was able to respond in the longer of these reports however the longer-term perspective, shown in the graph above, was not offered for context. The 64% increase in paediatrics staffing is on page 15 of the report. The change in 2017 alone where we saw paediatrics specialities staffing increase by 2.9% was also not offered.
The Herald had pretty much the same uncritical use of a trades union comment as if it were evidence of anything meaningful.
Returning to the RCPCH, two facts seem relevant in reacting to this demand.
First, from the RCPCH’s UK report in January 2018:
‘Policies that will improve childhood obesity rates, breastfeeding rates, women’s health during pregnancy, child poverty and child and adolescent mental health have all been welcomed in the new scorecard, which sees the Scottish Government performing far better than the Westminster Government when it comes to its focus on child health.’
We then see an impressive list of achievements, recognised in the report:
‘Key recommendations from State of Child Health that have been adopted include:
- An announcement to expand the number of health visitors by an additional 500 by the end of 2018 through the full roll-out of the Family Nurse Partnership programme.
- A commitment from Scottish Government to ensure specialist breastfeeding advice and support is delivered to women
- A commitment from Scottish Government to review statutory sex and relationships education in all schools
- A commitment from Scottish Government to create a system to ensure that child deaths are properly reviewed
- A commitment to deliver a Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Action Plan
- A commitment from Scottish Government to tackle obesity by supporting families to lead active lives, encouraging more women and girls to take up sport and launching a consultation with the view to publishing a strategy later this year’
And there’s more praise from RCPCH UK:
‘Dr Steve Turner, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Officer for Scotland, said: It’s heartening that the child health and wellbeing agenda is moving forward in Scotland. At the end of 2017 the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, providing a positive first step towards reducing child poverty. The Scottish Government has led the way nationally by setting a minimum unit price on alcohol, it has committed to deliver a child and adolescent health and well-being action plan in 2018, an obesity strategy and has committed to adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach. All of these developments indicate how serious Scottish Government is taking child health and they will help Scotland become a healthier country for children. “Considering only a year has passed since the launch of our State of Child Health report, it is encouraging that so many commitments to child health have been made. The key now is to make sure these commitments are delivered effectively.’
This looks like a ‘rogue’ pro-Union element in the wider RCPCH which clearly recognises the superiority of SNP management of NHS Scotland.
Second, the birth rate in Scotland is falling and has been falling for some time. In the period 2007 to 2017 when we have had a 64% increase in the number of paediatricians, we have seen an 8.7% reduction in the number of births and thus the number of young patients requiring their care.
The proxy war against the SNP via the NHS continues. See these for more detail: