Many sections of the UK media have reported on the latest “crisis” in the NHS the intervention by the British Red Cross, where by and large they fail to make one simple distinction. There is no British NHS as such. Lazy UK journalism like this creates the impression that there is a UK problem, which may or may not be the case. Surely it’s time that the Scottish Government took a deliberate line of rebranding NHS Scotland to the SNHS or SHS so that there is less chance of health issues in other parts of the UK being confused with specifically Scottish ones. Why should Scotland’s performance be held up to scrutiny because England is failing miserably?
If it’s confusing for many people across the country, this wasn’t helped by the online activity of two STV “Journalists” (and I use the term loosely, as they are apparently paid for what they do), Aidan Kerr and Oliver Dickinson.
Aidan Kerr tweeted that for the fourth month running Scottish A&E departments had failed to reach their waiting time target of 95% within 4hrs. It was left to members of the public to ask some of the most basic questions: how does this compare with previous months; has it significantly worsened and what factors could account for any fall? Only after asking was it revealed that there was no great movement and the figures were within 1.5% of those recorded for the same period in the last five years: in real terms, pretty much where they had been. But when there’s an atmosphere of crisis on the big news, the local guys can’t help trying to get in on the act, which is no doubt why STV’s Oliver Dickinson took to twitter to search for anyone who had an operation cancelled or delayed. It’s one thing when members of the public get in touch with concerns and you bring that story to the fore because it deserves airing. It’s quite another to have an agenda and then tout on social media for stories to back it up! Following this Mr Kerr then presented figures for cancelled operations, again utterly without context until pressed to do so. One person pointed out that their father was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation to save his life, and due to that three routine operations he was due to have were cancelled. Those three operations are no doubt in the total of cancelled operations, but without proper context the headline is meaningless, unless you want to present a picture which is not entirely accurate.
This isn’t investigative journalism, it’s trawling social media, inflaming opinion and presenting it as news. STV’s Digital reporting has not covered itself in glory in recent months and if they aren’t careful they will soon be viewed with the same disdain that the BBC is.