Six times this morning (and no doubt three time this evening on Reporting Scotland) we heard, headlined:
‘Doctors’ leaders are warning that the NHS in Scotland is being pushed to the brink!’
We’ve been here before, several times, with the BMA and BBC Scotland presenting unsound research findings to undermine the reputation of NHS Scotland and, by association, the SNP administration.
I’ll keep this short. Why is the BMA ‘research’ of little value in informing us about the true state of NHS Scotland?
- The BMA is a trades union, like Unite or the RMT. It’s ‘research’ is designed to produce results which it can use to campaign for more staff and more money, regardless of objective needs. Would an RMT survey of railway workers wanting more pay and resources be given comparable respect or prominence by BBC Scotland?
- We’re not able to see the wording of the questions used in the ‘research’. Leading questions are common in a partisan survey like this and completely invalidate the findings.
- The research sample was self-selecting. In such samples, typically, those with a grudge or with a negative disposition are more likely to respond. The results don’t tell you what the majority of doctors think.
- The research sample was small. There are around 13 000 doctors of various kinds in Scotland. The sample was 999 or 8% and not all responded.
- The BBC headline suggest ‘doctors’ leaders’ have issued the warning, yet only Dr McDivot and Dr Bennie of the BMA get a mention. Where are the leaders like, chairs of boards or university professors?
- The ‘Doctors’ leaders’ bit suggests authority and the need for particular respect. McDivot and Bennie are union leaders of the British Medical Association’s Scottish branch. I’ve had a wee search, but I can find no sign of either being a leading doctor. There’s no sign of awards for exceptional practice nor research publications presenting cutting-edge findings to move practice on nor is there even sign of them having managed anything much.
Given the above, BBC Scotland should:
- probably not be reporting such nakedly partisan and dodgy findings
- certainly not be headlining it all day
- if they must report it, mention the limitations.
Finally, there is considerable evidence (below) that NHS Scotland is performing pretty well despite the pressures. Could these have been reported?
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.’
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