Ex Reporting Scotland health correspondent analyses media bias against Labour Party in Wales


Welsh ambulance late after taking too long to ask police for directions to Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

A report in the usually trustworthy, often Blairite, Guardian, on Saturday 26th January 2019, has been described by former TV health correspondent, Elaine Betfred, as ‘classic propaganda.’

Betfred points out that the report seems to be largely based on the opinion of ‘one Welsh coroner’ and is devoid of reliable statistics upon which to base their, ‘frankly hyperbolic headline.’ The Guardian reported:

Ambulance and A&E delays are putting patients ‘at risk’

Patients’ lives are being put in danger by long delays for vital NHS care, a coroner has warned, following the death of a 93-year-old woman who waited 10 hours for an ambulance and another two to get into A&E. Ambulance hold-ups, staff shortages and the difficulty of getting speedy A&E care have contributed to “numerous” deaths and may claim more lives, according to John Gittins. He outlined his fears in a formal legal warning detailing a number of recurring flaws in care that he sent to the NHS after investigating the death of Gladys Williams. She fell and broke her spine in Wrexham in Wales last April, but it took 12 hours and six minutes after the first 999 call was made before A&E staff began treatment.

Betfred, echoing TuS Health Correspondent, Dr J W Robertson, said:

‘Using a single extreme example is neither useful nor is it tasteful. The Guardian reporter is clearly hostile, even if they have repressed the emotion, toward the Welsh Labour Government.’

Betfred was reportedly ‘disgusted’ by the report’s account of the 86-year-old dementia patient who broke her leg at her care home in Swansea on Sunday 27th but an ambulance did not arrive until 5.30pm on Tuesday. The patient’s relative said:

‘My mother was screaming in pain. I am fuming about the wait she had to endure, although that is not at all directed at the paramedics or hospital staff or staff at the care home.’

Betfred describes this as:

‘A form of morbid titillation for readers which does not meet the Guardian’s own editorial guidance on informing them.’


However, readers in Scotland may not be able to relax. On January 4th 2019, BBC Scotland was able to report ‘exclusively’:

Concern over ambulance response times in rural areas. Scottish Ambulance Service figures show the average time taken to attend a 999 call in Turriff between January and October last year was 18 minutes. The national target time is eight minutes. North East Scotland MSP Peter Chapman said more needed to be done. The Scottish Ambulance Service said the most serious calls were prioritised. The average time was 15 minutes in Aboyne and the Mearns. However, the average for Grampian was under seven minutes. Chapman said: “These figures highlight once again the poor level of cover experienced by parts of the north east.”


Bedford is thought to have advised on the above report and is satisfied that it makes use of numbers. However, TuS Health Correspondent, Dr JW Robertson, is less happy:

‘What is the point in extracting and reporting the figures for the only (?) two small towns where they diverge noticeably from the average? Must all patients, regardless of the severity of their condition and distance or type of road access from the nearest hospital, be guaranteed the same response time? Perhaps if NHS Grampian had thought to buy, and then modify, the decommissioned Harrier Jump Jets a few years back?’


Aberdeen to Turiff in 38 seconds! Landing space clearance, air to ground missiles on board.

Finally, readers of TuS will not be surprised to hear that Chapman is a Tory MSP and that BBC Scotland were not able to find any statistics for response times in England where his party is ‘in government’, if we can call it that.

Late News: Despite genetic evidence, secretly ‘gathered’ by a TuS staffer known only as ‘Monica’, Scottish Labour have denied that they are related to Welsh Labour.

Footnote: Dr Robertson is not a medical doctor but can recommend a good book on Critical Theory which is most effective for insomnia.


12 thoughts on “Ex Reporting Scotland health correspondent analyses media bias against Labour Party in Wales

  1. Alasdair Macdonald January 28, 2019 / 9:18 am

    I had a slight involvement with Ms Eleanor Bradford some years ago when I was involved with some individuals who were promoting cycling amongst nursery and primary school pupils in Bishopbriggs. She did quite a big feature on it for BBC Scotland. It was a thorough report which presented the project well. She knew her brief well. I also used to see her several mornings a week when she was cycling along the Clyde from her home to Pacific Quay, so she was being sincere the health promotion message: she was not just ‘talking the talk, but was also walking the walk’.

    However, she did produce a number of reports which could be described as ‘lacking balance and context.’ I understand she received a fair bit of nasty, personal trolling.

    The critique she has made to the Guardian article indicates she knows well the principles which Professor Robertson has been using to point out the partiality of BBC reports. This suggests, as many of us have suspected that the journalists are aware of these principles of balance and fairness which underpin god reporting and are choosing, wilfully, to present distorted impressions. The ‘vox pop’ is the most egregious way of doing this. We had the recent example of ‘the man with MS and pigeon droppings at QEUH’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Legerwood January 28, 2019 / 11:05 am

    Why is Betfred being quoted in this article?


    • Contrary January 28, 2019 / 1:21 pm

      Aye, Legerwood, I remember that, then have never heard anything since. I have no idea how you can test it with a pilot project, so would be interested to hear their methodology on it. Where is it that has already tested, and it was fairly successfully? Iran or somewhere? Many places seem to want a watered down version that I can’t see working – that is, it always seems to be the universality of it that is being removed (ie still some means testing, as in Finland’s – I think – case, they are just applying it to the unemployed – but the point it is, is that it isn’t a benefit). Ah well, maybe hear about it soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Legerwood January 28, 2019 / 4:41 pm

        Here is an update on what is happening

        I guess they have to work out a lot of practicalities not least of which will be where the funding comes from, what level will it be set at, how it will be dispensed etc. Not something you can do overnight and unlike Finland we are not independent. Always a big obstacle in any endeavour eg introducing a local income tax to replace the council tax. When the Scottisg Government tried to do this during its first term in office HMRC for one put lots of obstacles in the way of its implementation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alan Gordon January 28, 2019 / 6:45 pm

        I first read about universal income being trialled, in America, sometime in the 60s. From memory, it was two towns and they gave families on welfare an additional $1000 (?) per month. Results seemed to be all good, increased health status, new start up business created and general improvement in the town’s wealth.

        The US has the ability to frequently surprise me negatively but as the nation of the capitalist, zero sum game it has on many occasions surprised me by, trying, or embracing something, that I would have thought would sit like a tank on their social/financial lawn. The universal income trial, above is one. Another I have experience of is Community Supported Agriculture, CSA which is adopted by Americans in its purest form.


      • Contrary January 28, 2019 / 7:00 pm

        Thank you Legerwood, that answers the question as to when any pilots might be started (2020), I’m pretty sure my area of glasgow is one of those potentially trialing it – I should have had a quick look myself instead of grumping and moaning of course!


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 28, 2019 / 10:16 pm

        Alan Gordon,

        The US is a complex country, greatly different from the images portrayed by Hollywood, TV or the press. The States have significant powers protected by the Constitution and the separation of powers. For example, we heard a great deal about President Trump withdrawing from the Climate Change treaties, but, in an interview former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, pointed out that a majority of states have very strong climate regulation and that posturing by President Trump would have little effect on these, even the ‘blue’ (i.e. Republican) states which have climate legislation.

        States have revenue raising powers and they can use these as they see fit. Many states have pretty good welfare provision and some justify it on the basis that it improves the economy. It is not the ‘zero-sum’ game that the extreme conservatives like to present it.

        The United States controls its own currency and can create money. It also has mechanisms for redistributing federal money amongst the states to reduce inequalities between them.

        Liked by 1 person

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