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Wings Over Scotland

Health and efficiency

Posted on June 04, 2013 by

Particularly alert readers may recall a shock-horror story from the Scottish media earlier this year relating to a sharp rise in the number of people waiting over four hours for treatment in hospital A&E departments, which came complete with some dramatic (and highly misleading) graphs.


Labour’s ironic Scottish health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie poured opprobrium on the Scottish Government both for the figures and for changing the treatment-within-four-hours target from 98% to 95%, with the Tories enthusiastically joining in as usual.

So we were naturally quite curious to see what the corresponding figures for the English NHS would be, and they were finally released today.

Over the three months from October to December 2012, a total of 28,749 patients in Scotland waited more than the four-hour target figure. The population of England is almost exactly 10 times that of Scotland (53m to 5.29m), so you might reasonably expect something below 280,000 there, as the situation in Scotland is clearly the fault of SNP incompetence.

In fact, the number is 313,000 – a nine-year high and an increase of 40% on the previous year, as well as 9% higher proportionately than the Scottish figures. It’s almost as if the increase in Scotland was nothing to do with Scottish Government neglect and instead due to a combination of seasonal factors and one-offs like the nationwide norovirus outbreak, and that the Scottish NHS actually coped better than its southern counterpart.

(We also note in passing that the target figure for patients receiving treatment within four hours at Accident & Emergency departments in England is… 95%.)

We’re not suggesting for a moment that the Scottish media – which seems not to have covered this morning’s story – was deliberately trying to present a misleading picture of the Scottish NHS for political ends, of course. That would be a bit sick.

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    48 to “Health and efficiency”

    1. Robert Kerr says:

      Surely “ICONIC” rather than “IRONIC” for that object of health, fitness and beauty.

    2. ianbrotherhood says:

      Jackie Baillie is an easy target in more ways than one.

    3. Sapheneia says:

      Yet another example that smaller can be better.  It’s not what you have but how you use it.

    4. MajorBloodnok says:


    5. HighlandMartin says:

      I guess SLAB will be leaving waiting times out of FMQs this week.

    6. Dcanmore says:

      Of course with a compliant Scottish MSM, SLabour are hopeful that the Scottish public no nothing of what is happening in the rUK, in particular with the NHS, therefore it must only be bad news in Scotland … and that will be the SNP’s fault. Get the SNP at all costs, remain in the Union at all costs, is the only thing that matters to SLab, certainly not the health of the nation.

    7. ScottyC1314 says:

      Cannot wait for the Eleanor Bradford special report on this on Reporting Scotland tonight 😉

    8. HandandShrimp says:

      Harsh to the max 🙂
      Will Ruth and Wullie now say it is a disgrace that the Scottish NHS cannot match the rUK NHS’s exciting figures? I know that would be a mad thing to do but let’s face it you don’t get a lot of sense from the Holyrood opposition.

    9. Jimbo says:

      For a split-second there I thought you’d written: “Labour’s iconic Scottish health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie…”

    10. Max says:

      We’re not suggesting for a moment that the Scottish media – which seems not to have covered this morning’s story – was deliberately trying to present a misleading picture of the Scottish NHS for political ends, of course. That would be a bit sick.
      See BBC Scotland’s lead story;
      NHS waiting scandal leads to private healthcare spend
      Now compare that to a very similar story by the Herald in March 2013;
      NHS Scotland spent £70m to send patients private
      Compare the figures quoted for spend on patients being treated in the private sector.
      09/10 BBC Scotland – £30m, 
      10/11 BBC Scotland – £26m, The Herald – £36m
      11/12 BBC Scotland – £25m, The Herald – £34m
      12/13 BBC Scotland – £40m, 
      10/11 and 11/12 are substantially different, even though these figures were obtained by FOI.
      It would appear that in order to generate a headline the official figures have to be tweaked substantially. 

    11. Desimond says:

      Jackie Baillies next question : If Scotland vote YES could the beleagured NHS cope with the influx of Scottish Labour MPs in pain?

    12. Luigi says:

      Oh how the Labour party and their MSM poodles wish they could set up a Hadrians firewall. I imagine a politician’s life would be so much easier. No more double-speak, no more contorted arguments, no more tangled webs of deceit. No more embarassment. No more looking over shoulders. No more fear of cybernats. Yep, back to the good old days.

    13. Ian Anderson says:

      On a side note, does anyone else see the irony of the BBC website publishing information on why the Turkish media isnt reporting the uprising in Turkey?  They should ask their BBC Scotland friends why they are not publishing balanced Independence information.

      The passage below is frighteningly close to what the BBC is drifting towards:

      “A large section of Turkey’s media shies away from clashing with the government or actively supports it, to the extent that it has come to be known among Turks by the label “pro-media”.
      Their motives for doing so are varied. Some outlets – such as Islamic TV channels Kanal 7, Samanyolu TV and Ulke TV and the Islamic daily Yeni Safak – simply have a strong ideological affinity with Mr Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning AK Party.
      The owners of the private channel 24 TV – which has taken a strongly critical line towards the protesters – are known to be personally close to the prime minister.
      But most mainstream media outlets – such as TV news channels HaberTurk and NTV, and the major centrist daily Milliyet – are loth to irritate the government because their owners’ business interests at times rely on government support. All of these have tended to steer clear of covering the demonstrations.”

    14. HandandShrimp says:

      Had a look at the report on the Beeb. It would seem according to the Coalition that the risewas due to the harsh winter, the novovirus and increasing numbers going to A&E rather than the docs (I think NHS 24 tend to punt you to A&E if your symtoms sound worrying).
      So these excuses are valid in England but not in Scotland? (where the winter was pretty damned harsh).  Ruth and Wullie you are rascals. Labour understandably will want to use both sets of figures. However, given there are two independent spikes with differing NHS policies would suggest that external forces played a part. The fact that rUK’s are 10% worse may be due to Coalition health policies.   

    15. Max says:

      There is an interesting discrepancy between the BBC Scotland and The Herald for NHS Lanarkshire regarding NHS Scotland patient spend in the private sector. Excluding excluding care homes and hospices these combined figures for 10/11 and 11/12 are;
      BBC Scotland: £6m
      The Herald: £2.7m
      £3.3m difference. Now that cannot be right. 

    16. Jamie Arriere says:

      Is anyone else really seriously exercised by this? Of course, it’s not ideal to think of public health spending going into private profits – but it’s an increase of between £6m and £15m depending on whose figures you read, and after the exceptional long cold winter we’ve had, it’s no real surprise.
      It’s mainly down to two authorities (out of 14) with well-known problems which are being addressed. I’m afraid I can’t get up to High Doh over this (I’m between re and mi) – though I’m sure Eleanor Bradford is rehearsing her best soprano shriek for later…….

    17. Erchie says:

      I had this on the previous thread, just before this one started, so I’m reposting it

      There is a piece on the Herald’s website about Foulkes complaining about the “Road to Referendum” programme, effectively calling Iain MacWhirter an SNP front and Iain MacWhirter basically saying “keep this up pal and I’ll have you in court”
      Interesting that Alistair Darling wants to set up his secret underground army
      “Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, who chairs the anti-independence Better Together campaign, is to speak at a fringe event of the Scottish Conservatives conference in Stirling on Saturday.
      He will launch the Forces Together – a network of former UK Armed Forces Personnel and their families who believe that Scotland is stronger as a part of the UK.”

      “Better Together, now with added Sturmabteilung!”

    18. HandandShrimp says:

      I think the problem with the BBC in Scotland is that for the last couple of generations Labour were the political orthodoxy. Many of the people in BBC went to school and university with those that went on to rise in the Labour ranks, many were in their university Labour Socs. Back in the day I had friends in SNP, Labour, SWP and the Communist Socs at my Uni. Those were happy days and they are ties that bind for a lifetime. With Labour until recently being almost a political hegemony in Scotland it is really hard for those in the BBC to come to terms with the change that began in 2007 and the shock of 2011. Many Labour people are still in denial never mind those in the BBC. Things will change because the SNP have a much bigger party membership now, bigger than Labour, and the younger members will feed through to all walks of life including the BBC. In this respect I think it is different from Turkey where there are economic reasons for steering clear of controversy. Here it is cultural. Cultures change but perhaps not as quickly as we would like. Here we need to use the law, FOI and pressure on people like Paton to ensure that the BBC remain as honest as we can make them be.  

    19. velofello says:

      From my 20p I newspaper: GPs rejected Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that their failure to provide out-of-hours care has been responsible for increased demand at A&E.
      Could there indeed be a correlation? 

    20. HandandShrimp says:

      Foulkes is one the blimps that is in denial. Anything said that is other than 100% Labour orthodoxy is SNP 5th columnist work. He had a go at Bateman the other week too. I think most of us would consider Bateman not pro-SNP but certainly one of the most even handed of the BBC journalists. To Foulkes that makes him a raving Nat. Foulkes is a bit silly though.

    21. Erchie says:

      Oh aye, Foulkes is an erse, no two ways about it, the interesting thing was Iain MacWhirter’s reaction.
      Too long Labour have been used to saying what they want without a challenge. That is not *always* true any more.

    22. Robert Kerr says:

      Anent (I am permitted to use this word still?) the NHS in England. Yesterday the Daily Mail (I have cleansed myself) has an interesting take on A and E overload.
      Maybe this can be mentioned at FMQ.

    23. Dee says:

      Handandshrimp,, you seem to think the bbc in Scotland are going to be around for a while..The only thing that is stopping me going completely mad with anger at them is that they will be wiped out of Scotland after independence, So please don’t prolong the agony by suggesting they might be here even longer..It will be one of the more satisfying thoughts post independence..

    24. HandandShrimp says:

      I think if the vote is for independence then there will be hasty reshuffling of priorities and a SBC will be born out of the embers of the BBC. A great many of the technical and workaday staff will continue as normal. I quite like Get it On with Brian Burnett 🙂
      What happens at the upper echelon level and the news division will no doubt be determined by their reponse to a Yes vote.

    25. Robert Kerr says:

      They will be in shock and continue their crap anti SNP stuff. Does the leopard change it’s spots?
      Then we shall see. Depends on the government elected for Scotland.
      Interesting times indeed.

    26. Red squirrel says:

      The A&E stats are multifactorial (Obvious I know). Good GP access and good community/social care are significant factors – as is alcohol & drug related issues. Where Scotland does better is in GP access – basically more GPs per population = better appointment access. General Practice in rUK is on its knees through high demand, falling practice income and govt idiocy – private clinics, referral screening, QCC paperwork and last but not least, the attitude of some patients (shocking hatred for the most part about overpaid and underworked lazy GPs).
      out of hours care should be about urgent medical needs but folk are pushed into this if they can’t see a GP – either because access is crap or they think 24hours supermarket type access is appropriate – it’s not since we don’t have enough docs & you can get off your arse & go along in normal hours like everyone else.
      Scotland has been sheltered from most of this since health is devolved but with ongoing grant cuts how long can this continue? There is a push towards GPs taking back OOH and consultants working 24/7. All fine & politically popular but it will need more money & more staff – where would we get either? We’re exporting docs at a great rate to Canada, New Zealand and Australia where weather, money, lifestyle and respect are better. We pay to train them then these countries benefit. Something wrong somewhere but I really can’t blame those who leave for a better life. The NHS future in rUK is under serious threat – as is NHS Scotland if we vote NO.

    27. Erchie says:

      This picture is somewhat scary. Not kidding, it is

    28. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Jackie Baillie
      Ironic,  maybees
      Iconic, naws
      Titanic, better
      a Landlocked Leviathan absolutely

    29. Jamie Arriere says:

      I hear Alastair Darling is going round all the bookies in Scotland to create yet another meaningless pro-union organisation (I wonder, does he get expenses from all of them?)
      They’re going to be called “Betters Together”
      OK, TAXI!!!

    30. CameronB says:

      @ Erchie
      If these guys aren’t drummed out off the service, then perhaps they have tasset approval from their superiors? I have no idea as to the level of racism and fascist tendencies generally in the services, but there is obviously some.

    31. Jamie Arriere says:

      …and as for Foulkes (just saying his name feels like swearing), he’s just belly-rumbling like an old flatulent gorilla scared that his zoo is about to shut down, and he’s worried where his next banana is coming from.

    32. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Like that
      Double plus good.

    33. CameronB says:

      @ Erchie
      It puts me in mind of a train I caught some years ago, from Dundee to Edinburgh. Hearts had been playing at Aberdeen, and a lot of their support was returning on the same train. The table next to me had four sitting at it, one middle aged guy and the rest in their early twenties. I couldn’t help but overhear their beer-fueled conversation, which was all about loyalty to country. The middle aged guy’s position was that although he had served in the British army for over 30 years and had killed in the name of the Crown, he was most definitely Scottish and proud of it too.  The Hearts guys weren’t having this, as they were British. Their loyalty was to the Union Jack and one of them even got a picture of the Queen mother out of his wallet, praising her a one of the most saintly human beings ever. I jest you not. They felt insulted by the ex-serviceman’s attitude as they had no time for Catholics, Pakies and niggers, and even suggested that he was a ("Tractor" - Ed). And so that no one was left in doubt about their position, they all stood to attention singing “God Save the Queen” and giving the Nazi salute. Then they got off in Kirkcaldy, which of course is overrun with Catholics, Pakies and niggers!?

    34. The Man in the Jar says:

      That picture is disgusting. It is almost thirty years since I left the Army but I did serve for over sixteen years. I could be well out of date on this, the flags are one thing but nazi salutes in no way would be tolerated. If the soldiers are identified I would imagine that they would be charged with at least bringing their regiment into disrepute.
      It is my experience that squadies are not usually that bothered about politicks and rarely would you find one that will go to the hassle of arranging postal votes. There could be some that would support the union. These would mostly be from the Scottish Lowland Infantry Regiments that traditionally recruit from the coalfields of Fife and Lanarkshire. So no real suprises there.
      There is something on Yes Scotland website regarding Veterans for Independence but the last time I looked there wasn’t a lot going on in that regard.
      I hope that these guys are caught and get all that is coming to them.

    35. ianbrotherhood says:

      @TMITJ & Erchie-
      Work out the missing letters, then google the words…it’s like a grim version of Catchphrase.

    36. Erchie says:


      Aye. I worked it out. The group on the Union flag has a website but I decided not to look them up

    37. The Man in the Jar says:

      Kent based RFC supporters? Real knuckledraggers!
      I’m guessing that the guys in the photo are Teritorials, could be wrong but I doubt it.

    38. theycan'tbeserious says:

      Not the salute of soldiers fighting for the greater good and the liberty of others!

    39. john king says:

      “hese would mostly be from the Scottish Lowland Infantry Regiments that traditionally recruit from the coalfields of Fife and Lanarkshire. So no real suprises there.”
      Cant help but feel insulted by that comment, coming from Lochgelly I’m from a mining family but have supported the SNP since I left school in the early 70’s and to my surprise the central fife times (last time I looked) has had pro independence letters in the letters page, 
      dont be so quick to judge!

    40. The Man in the Jar says:

      @john king
      Sorry john I didn’t mean to cause offence indeed I am writing this from the former coalfields of Lanarkshire. It is just that at one time it was known that the recruiting seargents would target pit villages just as the pit closed. These regiments regularly have fathers and sons even uncles serving in the regiment.

    41. Shinty says:

      Re the photo –  maybe just 4 half wits with a camera. Whatever, I hope their mothers are proud.

    42. Lochside says:

      Jackie Baillie: Iconic? more like colonic.

    43. Chic McGregor says:

      Maybe we should send Eleanor Bradford South of the Border as a missionary?

    44. Linda's Back says:

      Spending on private services by the NHS in England reached a record £8.7bn last year, a jump of more than £3bn since 2006, according to research.A study by the Nuffield Trust and the Institute of Fiscal Studies reveals that the role of non-NHS providers in delivering NHS-funded care in England has increased dramatically from 2006, with the result that in certain areas of healthcare the independent sector is now a fixture in the NHS.The report gives as an example the proportion of hip and knee replacements delivered by private companies and funded by the NHS, which rose from “negligible” in 2003 to a fifth of all such operations today.The report says choice and competition were embedded into the NHS in 2008 with a significant effect on local hospitals.…/…

    45. pa_broon74 says:

      @John King & Man in a Jar.
      The flag under the Union Flag I think tells the true story of the image.

      (Apparently its not a Nazi salute either…)

    46. Appleby says:

      I hate these negative politics. I really wish I could see the back of them.

    47. Peter Mirtitsch says:

      Jackie Baillie is a lying twisted ignorant uninformed duplicitous (tick), “person” of the highest order…..allegedly.

    48. john king says:

      The Man in the Jar says:
      4 June, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      @john king
      no problem,
      probably me being hypersensitive after watching Elanor Bradford on BBC news 
      I cant imagine how that woman can live with herself

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