Why did BBC Breakfast pretend GP staffing figures for Scotland are not available?



(c) Daily Mail

Repeated on BBC Breakfast this morning, we heard at the end of a report on variations in the size of the GP patient load in different parts of England:

‘Similar data is not available for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but GP recruitment is known to be problematic across the UK.’

It’s a bit surprising in that BBC Salford have in the past been happy to offer Scottish data so as to reinforce their attack on NHS England and through it, the UK Tories*. However, the data is freely available and in places familiar to research or production assistants.

  1. GP vacancies in Scotland are only just over one-third of the level in England

Based on a survey by the GP magazine on 6th July 2018, Pulse, the Independent reported today:

‘GP vacancies (in England) rise to record levels despite recruitment pledge, survey suggests. Long patient waits and unsafe, rushed appointments are unlikely to end any time soon as vacancies have risen from 9.1 per cent to 15.3 per cent since the (UK) government pledged 5 000 more doctors.’


In sharp contrast, the GP vacancy rate in Scotland was only 5.6%, just over one-third, at the end of 2017.


  1. There are significantly more GPs per head of population in Scotland

The ratio of GPs to overall population, in 2015/16, was:

  • England 1 GP for every 1262 people
  • Scotland 1 GP for every 999 people
  • Wales 1 GP for every 1060 people
  • N Ireland 1 GP for every 1421 people


  1. 93% of Scots can get an appointment in two days!

From research published in the Scotsman on 25th April 2018:

‘More encouragingly, it also found 87 per cent of people found it easy to contact their GP practice, while more than nine out ten (93 per cent) were able to get an appointment within two days.’


  1. The Scottish Government is taking steps to ensure there are more GPs, and doctors in general, coming through the system.


*Though things may be changing in the Corbyn era, my impression and some earlier research, suggest that the BBC News senior staff are more residual Blairites than Tories and are certainly prepared to undermine the more right-wing tendencies in this government. Some have accused the BBC of favouring Brexit using the presence of Andrew Neil and Nigel Farage as evidence but I’m not so sure. Overall, I’d say they give quite significant space to ‘remainers’ such as Umunna and Soubry and to the many pro-EU business leaders. Though, again, I haven’t done the research, I’d say BBC Scotland are notably more respectful of the First Minister when she speaks in favour of the EU than they are at other times when she returns to the matter of Scottish independence.

BBC Scotland has a reduce presence at the weekend so they not be able to make up something. See this earlier example:

Report of GP staffing crisis in England appears before Scottish media can fake equivalent story


9 thoughts on “Why did BBC Breakfast pretend GP staffing figures for Scotland are not available?

  1. William Henderson January 19, 2019 / 10:08 am

    So, censorship by omission is alive and well in Glasgow this morning…………..

    Was it pretence that the data were not available, or just a calculated move to eliminate a truth which would ‘spoil’ the story?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. gavin January 19, 2019 / 11:42 am

    In their eyes, Scotland is categorized as a “small country far away of which we know little”.

    And care less! As long as they still get our licence fee moneys!

    Liked by 2 people

    • tompullings January 20, 2019 / 4:37 am

      Which they won’t, lol.


  3. Alasdair Macdonald January 19, 2019 / 12:49 pm

    This is another fine example of rapid rebuttal.

    Generally, as you have indicated, the BBC in England has, on many occasions used data from Scotland to highlight discrepancies in the service in England. So, they are aware that there is Scottish data and how to access it. So, to claim, this morning, that figures are not available for Scotland is simply wrong.

    It could be wilful bias by omission, but it could also be due to researcher inexperience, shortage, incompetence, etc. Given budget cuts, BBC Salford, too, might be operating on reduced staffing levels. Plebs like researchers can be chopped as long as the bloated remuneration of the high heid yin’s and the ‘celebs’ is maintained and even increased by tax avoidance ruses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Graham January 19, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    Well oh well this is currently on BBC national news, and just as pointed out the line NO FIGURES AVAILABLE is being pushed to the fullest , I really wish people who still believe this BBC would waken up .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. gavin January 19, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    On the BBC “Scotland” news tonight.

    *Scottish cup forth round*

    Liked by 2 people

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