Reporting Scotland returned tonight to their reporting on NHS Tayside’s treatment of breast cancer patients. The report contained no inaccuracies but through the sequencing of the information presented, created a causal connection not made by the Review Group report which they had supposedly based their presentation on. They said in an uninterrupted sequence:
- There’s further criticism tonight of a decision to give breast cancer patients in Tayside lower doses of drugs during chemotherapy than they would have received elsewhere in Scotland.
- A panel of experts has described the practice as close to being unacceptable.
- Fourteen of the patients involved have since died.
The very strong implication here is that these fourteen patients died because of the lower doses. The Review Group report absolutely does not say that or imply it in any way. Indeed, it says quite explicitly that of the 300 plus patients involved:
‘The overall assessment of the increased risk of recurrence within the treated cohort is extremely difficult to quantify but probably of the order of 1-2%. A risk of harm of 1-2%, allows an estimate that around 1 patient per year in NHS Tayside may have suffered an adverse outcome.’
So, the Review Group has made only the smallest, most hesitant connection between the treatment and perhaps a single death from the 300 plus patients treated. The BBC with its Royal Charter to inform has clearly failed to do so and, disgracefully, has contributed to an uninformed and dangerous scare story which might, in itself, damage the mental health and thus prospects of hundreds of breast cancer patients being currently treated by NHS Tayside. I’d complain, again, but I’m tired of the unprofessional, undereducated stubbornness of those working in Reporting Scotland.