Surgery in Scottish hospitals just as safe at weekends

© stv

Back in March 2016, Eleanor Bradford BBC Scotland Health Correspondent, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt were all wrongly convinced your life was at greater risk if you had surgery at the weekend. See this if you want a reminder:

We knew their sums were a bit dodgy at the time. Eleanor had based hers on a misreading of the data from one Dumfries hospital with a view to scaring Scottish patients as much as English ones already were. It’s taken some time for academics at Edinburgh University to thoroughly debunk the whole idea but they have now in the British Journal of Surgery, 21st March 2017. I haven’t got a report for NHS England but after all these years of Tory misrule, I’d drive back to Scotland first before signing in. Here’s what they report:

‘There was no difference in short- or long-term mortality following emergency general surgery at the weekend, compared with mid-week.’


Unannounced inspection of Gilbert Bain Hospital in Shetland reveals high standards.

Photo: Kenneth Shearer


The recently published report of a surprise inspection on cleanliness, hygiene or infection prevention and control, carried out on 30th November and 1st December 2016, highlighted only one area for improvement – ‘water ingress in the accident and emergency unit.’ I’ll come back to that.

Commended by the inspection team were:

Standard of equipment cleanliness was high.

Staff knowledge of standard infection control procedures was good.


The above two seem pretty crucial to me and thus reassuring news for the people of Shetland. The ‘water ingress’ issue is interesting. I’ve been to Shetland in February when the winds and rains blow horizontally with demonic force. If any part of the building opens then you’re going to get some ‘ingress’ at times. Read the explanation below and you’ll see they’re doing what they can and that this is a classic case of finding something, anything, to complain about or you look like you’re not doing your inspectorial job properly.

‘The water ingress presented a potential risk of contamination to the clinical areas where patients were examined. A representative from estates services explained this was an historical and ongoing problem that occurred during periods of extreme weather. Senior management staff told us that plans had been tested to make sure arrangements were in place to maintain safe, service continuity when water ingress occurs. We were also advised that extensive improvement work including upgrading the roof had been carried out and continued.’ (11)

See the first text I’ve highlighted? That’s common in Shetland. See the second piece? The potential risk has been long recognised and they know what to do about it thus, really, there is no risk.


New Technology to recover 500 million barrels of heavy oil from North Sea fields

Like most of you, I guess, my heart is with the renewables energy developments of which Scotland has many to be optimistic about but we can’t let the No campaign use the myth of a terminal collapse in the oil and gas sector to argue the Scottish economy is weak. See this for a wee reminder if you need to or if you need to remind a doubter.

North Sea oil and gas is on the crest of a ‘Third Wave’ and the SNP Government is already supporting plans for it

As I understand it, ‘heavy oil’ is difficult to extract from the oil fields but, as you might expect a new technology has come along, and the sort of Victorian sounding ‘Steam Oil Production Company’ aim to recover up to 500 million barrels from the North Sea’s ‘Western Platform.’ Reporting in Energy Voice yesterday, here’s how they’ve done it before:

‘In general, the onshore method of steam flooding involves pumping hot water vapour into a well. This heats the oil to a higher temperature so that it flows more efficiently through the underground formation and into the production wells.’

I’m no technologist but does that sound kind of obvious? Nevertheless there will be a pilot run before the company start seriously on the four blocks they’ve been awarded and which they estimate will allow recovery of that headline figure.

Major UK Housebuilder says Scottish Independence no barrier to continued growth

Writing in Scottish Construction Now, on the 22nd March, Bellway, a UK-wide housebuilder, made clear that independence would not change their Scottish growth strategy. With revenue over £1 billion, the company has now seen eight years of continuous growth and were unaffected by the Referendum in 2014. They expect to be similarly unaffected by Scottish Independence. Here’s what they had to say:

‘If you do end up with a scenario where Scotland becomes a different country to the UK, to separate that, it’s so embedded I can’t see how it becomes structurally a different country to invest in, in the way it’s different to invest in France…..The barriers to entry can’t be that great. Of course it has a degree of uncertainty for people but we’re still investing in Scotland and Scotland is doing very well for us. Demand is strong, we’re buying land and reservations are coming through well. We’ve got a good business so I don’t see how the referendum will change that.’

There’s a message there for all the companies tempted to join in with Project Fear 2. An independent Scotland is going to be a country free to make its own decisions but also one that will remain familiar, welcoming and convenient to work in.


If a second referendum result is too close to call for the polls then it’s more than likely to be a win for the Yes campaign


It looks from the polls that support for Scottish independence is at worst 44% and at best 49%. You might have been dismayed by the poll that reported only 44% and a wee bit excited by the 49% but it doesn’t really matter as much as the fact that support is being polled as solid from 44% up to 49%. I say this because the polls have a built in conservatism and a tendency to predict a status quo outcome. I’ll come back to why that means the real level is probably clearly above 50% for Yes.

First though, even within that 44% to 49% range, we have no idea which end of it is more likely to be the more accurate point upon which we can then add our confident if approximate supplement. Why? Well Scotland’s top psephologist said in his blog Polls Swing High, Polls Swing Low on 17th March:

‘But, of course, we always have to remember that even when there has been little or no change of opinion, polls can sometimes swing high and then swing low simply as a result of the chance variation to which all polls are subject.’

I’ll translate. He doesn’t know. They only poll about 1 000 people typically. The polls are all in that range but he has no idea what is the most accurate figure. No one does. Again, it doesn’t matter as even 44% is close enough.

Here’s the point: 14% of UK adults live in a mobile-only house with no landline and so cannot be auto-dialled by the polling companies.  They are also more likely to be young or poor. We know already that support for yes is at 72% for the under 24s and at 65% for those living in the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland.

So, in landline-telephone-polls, 14% of the electorate is being missed, they are mostly young and/or poor and mostly Yes-supporters. At worst if we only took half of them to be yes-supporters, the entire 44% to 49% Yes support in the polls turns into a majority of between 51% and 63%. If we reasonably assume around 65% of them are Yes supporters. Then that adds another 2% pushing the range up to between 53% and 65% for Yes. Remember the 44% figure was a bit of an outlier. Now we’ve seen how the polls failed to predict the last Tory win, Brexit and Trump. We know the campaign has not even begun and that the last one took Yes support up nearly 20%. We know the Tories will do something stupid soon. We know the No campaign are divided and have no credible leader. We know the bookies say Yes.