Reporting Scotland ambulance-chase in desperate attempt to find something wrong


Unlike the online version of the story which mostly gives due credit for this unambiguous success story, BBC Scotland News scrabbled around to find something, anything, they could use to undermine it. Here’s the essence of the story in the BBC’s own online version:

‘Hundreds of lives have been saved by a new ambulance response system which prioritises life-threatening calls, a study has found. The Scottish Ambulance Service changed the way it responds to the most unwell patients in 2016. Incidents such as cardiac arrests are now given the highest priority by call handlers. An evaluation of the changes has concluded the system has saved the equivalent of 1,182 lives. Under the new system, call handlers are taking longer on the phone to despatch paramedics and some lower priority calls are waiting longer for an ambulance, the review concludes. But both the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and researchers at the University of Stirling have concluded the new approach is saving lives.’

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For Reporting Scotland this was not good enough, so they inserted a major section with a selection of dramatic headlines for backdrop:

But the service has not been devoid of criticism. Headlines have highlighted long waits for ambulances and last month police officers raised concerns about the time they were spending escorting people to A&E. GPs have welcomed the new priority system but they too are worried about delays in non-critical calls.’

Were these headlines actually for the very kind of critical calls that the new system has improved on?

The ‘service has not been devoid of criticism?’ What service has? Is this really informative material that we can use to judge the successes of a system evaluated by a university? These are one-off cases often picked up by trawling politicians and fed to the BBC itself.

As for the police concerns, these are to do with waiting times at A&E and not waiting times for ambulances to respond in the first place – FAKE NEWS?

The ‘worried GPs’ turn out to be, more accurately, one of their trade union reps. More important for accuracy, is their trade union rep really saying that they’re worried about delays in non-critical calls or are they really just annoyed that this new scientifically tested system is at times contradicting them and their, perhaps more selfish need to ‘clear their decks’?

I note that the Herald have ignored the story altogether today. Is that because their earlier reporting now exposes them as mere shit-stirrers?



Yoon Health Correspondent sobs as only one nurse writes to Nicola to complain about anything


The above Freedom of Information response has just been published and it’s a hoot. It’s anonymous so we don’t know whether the attempt to trawl for bad news about NHS Scotland came from Labour, Tories, LibDems, BBC, Scotsman, Herald or whichever desperate crew. You’ll see that the FoI office might be getting a bit fed up with the applicant’s determination to find something, anything and in the process waste public money. Here’s the question:

You asked for any correspondence (letters, emails or otherwise) dated from 1 September – 1 December 2018 from nurses to Nicola Sturgeon on any of the following topics: excessive workload, staff cuts, Scottish Government funding, poor workforce planning, or job satisfaction.’

The response was:

‘You have previously made this same request for a broader timescale and been advised that the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, NHS Scotland’s health boards are among the largest employers in Scotland and many of their employees write to the First Minister every year. Details of which correspondents are nurses are not held by the Scottish Government as we are neither the direct employer nor the regulator of the profession. In an effort to be helpful (😊) we have examined only where a correspondent has clearly self-identified as a nurse – although we should observe that we have no way of verifying that this is the case.’

Delightfully, they could only find one:


‘Crisis as at least one nurse goes for early retirement!’

‘Crisis as not enough nurses complain to….’



As the IEA gets a doing today, remember Reporting Scotland’s fondness for such ‘independent’ think-tanks in 2014?


On BBC Politics Live today, Mark Little, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs looked as if he might burst a blood vessel as their interviewer pushed him to reveal who funds the IEA. They showed secret film of him boasting of his access to politicians and evidence of donations from the extreme right in the USA. Another two men representing The Taxpayer’s Alliance and the Academy of Ideas promptly went beetroot-red too. Hiding something gentlemen?


It’s worth a watch:

As I watched, my mind returned to 2014 when Reporting Scotland made regular use of research reports of variable reliability often from ‘independent’ thinktanks, to undermine the case for Scottish independence. In the year from 17th September 2012 to 18th September 2013, they used such sources to attack independence 22 times while only reporting 4 times on research favourable to it.

Then in the four months before UK General Election of 2015, they used such reports to undermine the case for independence 36 times with none supporting it.

To find where the IEA stands on Scottish independence requires no great research expertise. From their own site:

Scottish independence and the sterling-zone controversy

Healthcare in Scotland: Careful what you wish for, ‘Yes’ campaigners

Against subsidised home rule: Why Scotland should pay for its own healthcare

In further evidence of their impartiality, the previous DG of the IEA, John Blundell, campaigned for the privatisation of Scottish water and predicted the death of Scottish farming in the EU:

To finish, here’s Mark in 2014 on how the English model for health provision could improve things in Scotland:

‘Allowing complete freedom of choice and empowering people to choose private commissioners and providers will promote competition across the health sector. This will see hospitals, as well as GP surgeries and commissioning groups, competing to look after the health care of all Britons, as their livelihood will depend on it.’

The IEA’s paper argued that the health services in Scotland have suffered as a result of not introducing the type of market reforms pioneered by Labour in England.

I guess he has private health provision but if the company goes bust, he might think of moving up here before his blood pressure goes the same way.


‘Chuck your money at us’ say Labour breakaway MPs and Scottish Labour should pay attention


The new Labour breakaway MPs are well-placed to claim the kind of economic competence voters think Jeremy Corbyn lacks.

In 2014/15, likely future leader, Chuka Umunna, had Parliament’s most costly staff at £169, 469 per year and came sixth in personal expenses at £192, 170.

In 2009, Angela Smith claimed for four beds to install in her new one-bedroom flat in London and spent £11 000 setting the flat up. That’s the kind of entrepreneurship the UK sorely needs.

To be fair to Chuka, he has been able to keep his expenses down a bit by taking on a second job, supplementing his miserable £80 000pa with a wee part-time job, 12 hours per month, with Progressive Centre at £452 per hour or £65 000 per year. Once more, what an entrepreneur!

Progressive Centre do not reveal who funds them but if they can pay Umunna at that level then someone or some corporation with cash to spare, opposed to Corbynism, must be involved. Their board includes regular contributors to the Telegraph and the Economist. They’re not even listed in the Who Funds You survey:

What can Scottish Labour learn from this? Get a good-looking young man who knows his worth in front of the cameras.


Umunna’s looks derive in part from an Irish mother. I’m advised by TuS Talent Correspondent that young Paul Sweeney with a bit of expense-account grooming is ‘your man’. His surname suggests he too has a bit of the Irish in him.

Footnote: Umunna’s father blessed his child by naming him in the South Eastern Nigerian dialect, Igbo, ‘Chuck your money’.



New Scottish teachers 8 times more likely to stay than those in Tory England


In the Independent today:

‘Nearly three in five teachers in only their first year in the profession are already not convinced that they will stay in teaching – and rising mental health problems are partly to blame, research finds. The survey, of more than 275 teachers in their first year of teaching, by a Leeds Beckett University academic, found that only 43 per cent have definite plans to stay in the profession long-term.’

In a Times Education Scotland article full of Iain Greymatter, we read:

‘Since 2014-15, a total of 296 primary and secondary probationer teachers left the profession.’

So, that’s around 100 per year leaving.

In any year, there are around 2 000 probationer teachers in Scotland.

So, the percentage actually leaving is 5%.

5%, 43%? I know we’re not comparting like with like. Maybe more than 5% of the Scots would moan about planning to leave but 43%?

Let’s see if we can find the actual number of English probationers leaving. Oooh, would the 2015 figures do? See this:


Now what could be persuading all those Scottish probationer teachers to stay on? Hmm, see these:

Boom! 35% fewer vacancies in Schools and 15% more student teachers

Scotland not one of ‘all English-speaking countries’, English researchers find but our teachers may be happier

97% of Scotland’s head teachers expect attainment gap to close over next five years thanks to SNP government funding

Despite Scotsman scare story, English schools spending 50% more on supply teachers than better-staffed Scottish schools.

Scottish teachers report lower job demands, better relationships and lower perceived stress levels than those in England and only 4% are considering leaving their jobs

In the Herald, SNP warned that giving more power to head-teachers in Sweden “led to declining standards” No it didn’t.

Forget PISA’s tiny unreliable samples: Scotland has the best school attainment outcomes in the UK because it has the most teachers per pupil

Scottish Teachers Less Likely to Consider Quitting

Scotland has far fewer pupils for every teacher

EIS survey on Scottish teacher stress is stupidly covered in National then disappears before leading academic can mark it its ‘methods.’

Scottish Conservatives write FAKE NEWS on ‘teacher shortages’ for ‘Scotsman’



Scotland’s national airline, Loganair, steps in to save flights to Bristol, Oslo and Esbjerg


Six cabin crew and me the only passenger! Did I dream that?

From Insider today:

‘Regional (sic) airline Loganair has said it will take over some services provided by flybmi . Loganair will operate flights from Aberdeen to Bristol, Oslo and Esbjerg from March 4 – describing this as a “significant expansion” of its Aberdeen base.’

When I say Scotland’s favourite, I mean my favourite. I flew several times to Shetland in the 90s to deliver IT in-service for teachers. My module ran in February, so the landings were like a trip to Alton Towers as passengers screamed and I realised why the free drink had been so generous.

No reports in NHS Scotland of ‘Mental health patients at risk of suicide discharged from NHS without adequate support’


This report in today’s Independent is mostly anecdotal so may or may not be a sign of a real crisis developing: 

‘The Independent has heard from patients who say their mental health has deteriorated because of the discharge process, which has left them feeling powerless and damaged their faith in services meant to keep them safe. Others grappling with addiction issues have been ejected from inpatient care and told to get clean before the NHS is able to treat their psychological issues. Psychiatrists said falling numbers of mental health beds and the loss of specialist units for more complex patients have created pressures to discharge, which cash-strapped community services have not been able to meet.’

So far, I can see no sign of copycat behaviour by our NoMedia in Scotland but I will watch out for it. If you search for ‘NHS Scotland mental health patients risk suicide adequate support’, there is no sign of what would be a choice morsel for them to report on.

What about official statistics then? What proportion of deaths by suicide can be linked to fairly recent discharge? See this table


As you can see, only 7.7% had been discharged within the previous 30 days and we cannot say how many if any of them were discharged without adequate support.

So, there is clearly an absence of the evidence of a significant problem in Scotland, but the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence unless you’re thinking of our NoMedia. We know from previous experience that even a sniff of a single case will do them. See these recent examples:

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