Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Andrew Lansley has been in the news today, in the morning because he was going to the Royal College of Nursing conference this afternoon to talk to a select few nurses, and there was to be a motion of no confidence.

Later in the day he was news because he’d been to the conference, there had been a motion of no confidence which was carried by a margin of 99-1, and he’d met some nurses, and told them he regretted that the message he had for them had failed to communicate itself (whatever that means).

Now it’s a given that Lansley is a toast in the making, shortly to be hung out to dry along with his policies (to mix my metaphors). That he was patronising to the nurses also goes without saying. He probably doesn’t know how NOT to be patronising.

But surprisingly it is not with him that I have an issue. No. Rather it is with the media.

The BBC this morning, STV at 6.30 and Channel 4 at 7 pm all made the same mistake. They talked of Lansley as The Health Secretary, and of the NHS as if the UK only had one.

Now, of course, we are all used to the fact that national news programmes treat Scotland as if it isn’t there most of the time.

That’s a given. But I beg of the tv and radio stations, not to mention newspapers to take heed of my plea..

This is election time in Scotland, I SAY THIS IS ELECTION TIME IN SCOTLAND... and we are electing a GOVERNMENT, just like you did last year, which will run our internal affairs.

Among these affairs is health. Your current misleading coverage may mean that some Scottish folk watching you programmes will think that our health service is just about to be semi privatised by a man so out of tune with everyone’s feelings you wonder that he’s not from Mars.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable if they did given today’s coverage. And come to that, the front page of yesterday’s SCOTTISH edition of the Daily Telegraph, which led with a story about the ENGLISH health service.

The truth is that under Nicola Sturgeon (Cabinet Secretary for Health) the Scottish Heath Service is getting better all the time.

Now the Daily Telegraph has no obligation to be fair and even handed so it’s just irritating that it’s not. The BBC, STV and Channel Four, however, have fairness as a contractual obligation. Perhaps at election times (even in far off, unimportant, little Scotlandshire) they might make a little more effort to ensure that their stories are as near the truth as they can reasonably be.


  1. Perhaps the media outlets assume that the public can tell the difference unlike yourself who even notes the different post title in NHS Scotland (not Scottish Health Service). Get a grip on your paranoia.

  2. Actually, having just finished a shift-some of the public AND staff thought the news was reporting on NHS Scotland

  3. Wecome to the blog, Jonathon Todd, and thanks for your comment.

    I said that "some" people might not realise, although I'm sure that many, who are tuned in to politics, will. It is those who are not, and who therefore get confused that I am concerned for. It is quite a serious matter in this case in the run up to a general election, albeit only one in Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.

    The assumption made by the 'international' media, based in London, that England is the UK, is not my paranoia though. It's reality.

    Day after day I hear news about education, transport, the environment, health, law and order, prisons and many other things which have no bearing on my life. In most cases I know, but I interest myself in politics, and sometimes I'm not sure whether something will affect me or not. (There are Engish departments which have some remit in Scotland... Home Office, Transport,ect.)

    I don't understand the second point in your first sentence.

    Incidentally, on another subject, do you know what a reflexive pronoun is?

  4. Yeah Anon. That's the problem. The devolution was really badly done by Labour, mainly because they didn't want to do it and were forced to by the Council of Europe's ruling on nationalities.

    There is much that isn't clear; some disciplines cross borders, some don't.

    Most of the time it is simply irritating to be thought not to exist, or at least to be unimportant enough to be ignored.

    Just before an election to have people confused (or worse not confused; quite certain, but wrong) about the remit of a dreadful cock up department, with which even the prime minister seems to be losing faith is just plain wrong as it could affect the way they vote...and the outcome of the general election.

    As far as I know (and I have asked a few) staff here seem to be satisfied with the health team of Nicola Sturgeon and Shona Robison. As it appears that you work in the NHS, maybe you could comment on that?

    99% vote of no confidence
    1% vote of confidence.


    Thanks for mentioning it.

  5. "99% vote of no confidence
    1% vote of confidence.


    I was thinking the same - 1% actually have confidence in him??? What's that all about?

    I see friends on facebook posting links to "Save the NHS" sites and polls, and these are Scottish people, some of whom are even supposed to be interested in politics. It may be that they just like an excuse to moan about things, but they're still helping perpetuate the myth that it has something to do with Scotland. If they didn't see it on the news in the first place, they probably wouldn't care.

    There are two very simple solutions: either leave any stories related to devolved matters until the regional news, or just give us a full hour of Scottish news (preferably not leading to a full hour of Jackie Bird). Actually, there's a third option: start calling it NHS England.

  6. Andrew Lansley and his reforms have no relevance at all in the devolved areas of the UK. It is misleading for so called UK news providers to act as if the NHS was a UK institution administered by Mr Lansley from London when it simply isn’t.

    Technically speaking the NHS as a UK wide institution never existed as the Scottish NHS was created by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 and was theoretically administered by the Secretary of State for Scotland and not the Minister of Health, who was from 1968-1988 titled the Secretary of State for Social Services (under the differently titled Department of Health and Social Security). Health and Social Security were separated in 1988 and the English NHS was under the Secretary of State for Health as it still is. But during the entire period of 1947-1999 the Scottish NHS was under the SoS for Scotland. Since devolution it has been under the care of the Minister of Health and Community Care (1999-2007) and then the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. Jonathon I hope this can clear up you confusion about “posts”.

  7. I can understand the Daily Telegraph pushing an English NHS story as if it was Scottish because the only campaign strategy the Labour party has in Scotland is to try and make this election an anti-Conservative campaign focused on Westminster in an attempt to marginalise the SNP and capitalise on the anti-Tory feelings in Scotland and the Telegraph is a Labour paper these days.

    The charitable might say that the treatment of the Conservatives' cuts for the English NHS as UK stories by the BBC, STV and CH4 had nothing to do with the election campaign and were just genuine mistakes.

  8. For those interested last nights newsnight Scotland interview was Annabel Goldie, here:

  9. You've certainly got a point Doug, although I would have hoped that the Channel 4, BBC and STV might have been expected not to make quite as many mistakes as they have been making over so many different devolved issues.

    Quite simply programmes that go out in Scotland must, as a matter of course, distinguish between Secretaries of State in England and their Cabinet Secretary counterparts, particularly where an election is going on.

  10. This is a real problem but one the media have no interest in addressing but in the case of channel 4 and STV I’d tend to put down to laziness more than malice, as for the BBC while the clue’s in the name as to why they wouldn’t want to acknowledge Scotland’s separate identity. In my view this is just yet another example of why Scotland needs it’s own dedicated broadcaster to combat confuse like this and promote Scottish culture, language and sport, it ridiculous that a nation the size of Scotland doesn’t have this particular when you compare us to autonomous regions Spain.

    As for Nicola Sturgeon and her performance as health secretary I think she should take up the middle name wonder Woman on the back of the improvement she’s made in since taking over from Labour. In 8 years Labour failed to meet their target of cutting waiting times for cancer treatment to 61 day Nicola managed this in less than a year! She has since reduced the time further to 31 days and is now trying to get them down to 2 weeks. Also when she took over from Labour in 2007 there were 32,000 people waiting over 12 week for outpatients treatment, now just 150! Seriously I wasn’t kidding when I said she should pick up the name Wonder Woman.

  11. Anon: Thanks for posting the link to that article from the Scotsman of all papers.

    Other points which we should be shouting frm the rooftops:

    When Labour ran the NHS...there were "hidden waiting lists". These were abolished by the SNP.

    When Labour ran the was impossible to find a dentist. The SNP opened a new dental school in Aberdeen to train more. Now 1 million more people have access to an NHS dentist.

    When Labour ran the NHS...they wanted to close A&E units in Monklands and Ayr. The SNP kept them open along with other threatened local hospital services.

    When Labour ran the was being slowly privatised, with private firms building and owning hospitals under PFI. The SNP ended that scandal. They also ended Labour's other privatisation experiment by bringing Strathcaro hospital back into the NHS.

    When Labour ran the NHS...prescription charges kept on rising even for the low paid with chronic conditions. The SNP has abolished prescription charges.

    When Labour ran the NHS...superbugs were a serious problem. Since 2007 the SNP has cut the rate of the hospital acquired infections C. Diff and MRSA by 70%

    Yeah Superwoman're right. Or a least an excellent, hands on mnanager.

    It's almost impossible to believe that anyone would want to go back down the Labour road.

    Jacquie Baillie is the least awful of the Labour clowns, but I don't think she's a patch on Nicola Sturgeon.

  12. Thanks for the link to newsnicht Munguin.

    Annabel was head and shoulders over Tavish, without a doubt, and in the end she was hectoring Brewer.

    If the Tories are daft enough to get rid of her after the election, then I reckon they can kiss themselves (note Jonathon... correct use of the reflexive pronoun) goodbye.

    She alone detoxifies the brand.

    As for Brewer's last question about her banning candidates from using the word 'toxic'... erm...why would she need to? Can anyone imagine a Tory candidate describing him, or herself thus (another correct usage Jonathon).

  13. Doug Daniel:

    Hi, nice to see you here.

    I think you're bang on. The minute that we got a parliament which was enacting totally separate laws from England's, instead of simple Scottish versions of English laws enected in London, we should have been given a Scottish Six.

    All the parties seem to agree that this is what is needed.

    I can understand that people sometimes are confused as to what is, and is not happening in Scotland. I am and I'm one of those boring political anoracks!!

    And please not more Jacklie Bird. I can't stand her but, I suppose she alright for the magazine stuff and writing for the "Retard", but as a serious newseader...poleeeez!