By a Newsnet reporter
BBC Scotland has come under fire after it was alleged to have used exaggerated figures in a report into ward occupancy rates in Scotland’s NHS.
Health secretary Alex Neil hit back at the broadcaster after a report claimed occupancy rates were as high as 133% in some hospitals as beds were borrowed from other wards.

Responding to the claims from the BBC that patients were being put at risk, Mr Neil said he was concerned about “some of the wilder claims” from the broadcaster.

He added: “Some of the figures quoted by the BBC are just quite frankly not true and do not reflect the information provided by the boards.”

Mr Neil cited the example of Inverclyde Hospital in Greenock, which the broadcaster had claimed had an occupancy rate of 133%.  However official figures from Greater Glasgow and Clyde health Board showed the real figure to be 35% lower.

Highlighting the improbability of the BBC claims, the health minister said; “If there had been a hundred and thirty three per cent occupancy rate, that would have meant that at midnight when these things are calculated, there would have been thirty three patients admitted to hospital sitting on chairs and trolleys.

“That just never happened.”

According to Greater and GlasgowClyde Health Board: “The occupancy rate for surgical and medical specialities at Inverclyde Royal during the period covered by the BBC ranged from 76% to 97.7%.”

The BBC report was co-compiled by reporter Eleanor Bradford who, despite the official statement from the Greater and GlasgowClyde Health Board, repeated her claims on that evening’s Reporting Scotland.

The episode is not the first to call into question the accuracy of the reporter’s figures on the Scottish NHS.  In 2013, Ms Bradford was embroiled in a row after she was accused of presenting false figures relating to waiting times in the Scottish NHS.

In a BBC article published on January 12th last year, Ms Bradford claimed that “As many as 3,500 people at risk of bone fractures are waiting eight months for a scan to detect osteoporosis at a clinic in Aberdeen.”

Those claims also featured on the flagship news programme Reporting Scotland.

However, Newsnet Scotland discovered the statement was untrue – the 3,500 figure was the number of patients treated by the centre in a year and NOT as claimed by the BBC the number who were affected by the 32 week delay.

Indeed, it also emerged that the figures had already been published on NHS Grampian’s own website since October 3rd 2011 – fully 15 months before the BBC Scotland reporter’s own claims.

NHS Grampian put out a detailed statement following the BBC report which refuted all of the allegations made by Eleanor Bradford in no uncertain terms.

It subsequently emerged that, far from 3,500 people having been affected by the scanner problem at NHS Grampian as claimed by BBC Scotland, the real figure was closer to one hundred. 

An audit report found that NHS Grampian was fully compliant with the waiting list guidelines and that there were only a few technical problems which have since been addressed to the extent which they can be under the constraints of their IT systems.

Suspicions over BBC Scotland’s approach to the Scottish NHS increased in 2013 when information acquired by Newsnet Scotland showed that Freedom of Information requests to NHS boards from the BBC surged when the SNP came to power in 2007.

It revealed that BBC Scotland FoI requests had increased by almost seven hundred per cent compared with Labour’s last year in power at Holyrood and fuelled speculation that the broadcaster was fishing for ‘bad’ news stories in an attempt at undermining confidence in both the SNP administration and the Scottish health service.

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Jacque De Molay
2014-08-11 23:25

It would be a bigger shock if she did an article that did not use bogus figures.

She is on a unionist mission to undermine confidence in the NHS.
She typifies all that is wrong at the BBC and with journalism in general.
2014-08-12 00:00

This comes as no surprise and is just another instance of BBC Scotland’s relentless campaign of attacks on The Scottish NHS since The SNP first came to power in 2007.

It started when Jackie Baullie shadowed Health withen Eleanor Bradford working hand in hand with Baillie digging up alleged NHS scandals and shortcomings.

It is high time Pacific Quay were asked to explain the 700% increase in FOI Requests relating to The NHS subsequent to the 2007 election and tell us who was behind that move.
2014-08-12 00:37

Exactly Gus,

What galls me most is that when it comes to the BBC and FOI requests they refuse them on ‘journalistic grounds’.

How about the NHS starting to refuse the BBC on grounds of ‘mis-reporting’.

That seems like a fair trade.

2014-08-12 00:30

For anybody who doesn’t already know Rev Stu has released the Wings ‘Wee Blue Book’ for download.

It is a fantastic document which should be circuloted as widely as possible.

If only it could appear through every letterbox and be read a YES vote on 18/9 would be in the bag with a massive majority.
Dundonian West
2014-08-12 09:51

Wee Blue Book direct link gus1940.
“If only it could appear through every letterbox and be read a YES vote on 18/9 would be in the bag with a massive majority.”
I agree it is a fantastic document.…/…
2014-08-12 10:37

Amen to that. I agree.

I don’t actually think we need a game changer, but if we did, the Wee Blue Book from Wings might just be it.

It’s all about distribution. Get reading it. Get sharing it. Get printing it.

2014-08-12 01:32

I heard the interview with Alex Neil on the radio at about 8am. It is shocking that this report was not either binned or corrected at that point.
Eleanor Bradford’s report last year about the scanner delay particularly annoyed me. I was invited to have a routine bone scan a few years ago. I think there was a campaign at the time and I qualified because of my age. The result showed I’m in no more danger of fractures than anyone else.
Katie Beardie
2014-08-12 06:15

Strange that the BBC should pull this story hours after the publication of the above article. Fiends!
2014-08-12 06:18

A reputable broadcaster would not continue to employ Eleanor Bradford. However, BBC management are letting her get away with her misreporting. With the support of Jackie Baillie.
2014-08-12 06:21

A lying BBBC, distorting , devious and shameless – may the whole edifice crumble.

I honestly don’t know how these people can call themselves journalists – Labour spin doctors, certainly but not journalists.
Spin doctors of the D.McBride school of spinning.

Where are they going to hide when Scotland votes YES?
There is no way they will be employable here – too much misinformation , too many lies , too much sneering and demonising.
Like the Westminster MPs and their pet press pack , they live in a bubble which is about to burst – help that bubble on its way and vote YES with confidence and hope of a happier future for the children and grandchildren of Scotland.
As someone once said , “We can do this!”
2014-08-12 07:17

Alex Neil quote; “Some of the figures quoted by the BBC are just quite frankly not true….”

In this so called democracy a Scottish Minister, a member of our government, effectively accuses the National Broadcaster of lying.

That is a story in itself. The fact that it will not be a story perfectly sums up the disgraceful situation that Scotland now finds itself.

It’s now reached a point where the BBC can actively tell lies and it is practically accepted as business as usual and part of the fabric of every day life.

It’s astounding that this point has been reached. The BBC and Ms Bradford know that they are in cast iron safe positions that cannot be touched.
2014-08-12 07:35

Posted this on WoS earlier.

I sent a text yesterday to BBC Scotland complaining about the Eleanor Bradford story – basically sometimes hospitals get very busy. I said she had a healthy obsession with attacking the NHS in Scotland and this was another non-story.

In fairness, John Beattie read out most of my text and said it had been sent from Mike (me). However, I never put my name on the text
2014-08-12 08:24

More lies from the BBC. Whatever the referendum result this rotten British nationalist institution must be ended.
2014-08-12 09:02

Another inaccurate series of lies and distortions broadcast online, on radio and television for the nation to consume. To reinforce any sense of negativity which may exist within the minds of the swithering dithering undecideds towards the prospect of independence.
And now its gone. Stood up shouted a lie, threw some mud then ran away. Absolutely outrageous from an allegedly professional journalist and a state funded broadcaster.
Complaints should now be winging their way to the bbc trust etc.
This is wearisome and true to form. I can’t believe what I am witnessing…
2014-08-12 09:25

Bradford and her mentor Baillie seem to have started a new offshoot of the Better Together campaign, which should be called “Lying For Britain!”

The ubiquitous Professor Curtice could then launch into his usual rapid-speak gobbledook, claiming all their false claims were “although factually inaccurate, should perhaps be accorded some degree of credibility, when the balance of probabilities were factored in, etc., etc…”
2014-08-12 16:50

Curtice even got his face on Aljazeera the other day. I thought Aljazeera were better than that.

2014-08-12 09:32

As far as I can see her tactic of attacking NHS Scotland can only backfire. 160,000 employees (all of voting age) will see and hear these attacks and know they are untrue and will defend their corner when talking about it with friends. They know only too well how hard they work and if any of their pals try and use a BBC NHS scare story in front of them they will come out fighting and put that person right.

So, in a way, well done, Bradford. Your incompetence is a blessing.
2014-08-12 09:41

Since a long time the BBC have been trying to influence and alter public opinion instead of just reporting on it.

They do this UK wide but it is more overt in Scotland. We don’t need a witch hunt after a YES in the referendum but we do need an investigation and audit of practices, management actions and relations between BBC employees and third parties. The outcome of the audit
would help structure the New Scottish service. Just changing key people wont be enough a whole new service and culture needs rebuilt from the ground up.

It would be tempting for a Scottish government to replace people and have a service that is nothing but a Scottish propaganda channel instead of a Brit one.
Will Mcewan
2014-08-12 10:42

2014-08-12 15:32

Read this story in the press, and couldn’t help notice that BBC Scotland news programme push the story relentlessly.

I listened to Alex Neil, and realised that the BBC had twisted the figures to suit themselves. it all boiled down to the BBC trying to undermine not just the SNP government but the Scottish NHS.

The BBC in Scotland are working against the interest of Scots.
Bill Steele
2014-08-12 17:27

This cannot be allowed to go on. What can we quickly do about this? another mass protest at BBC Scotland? When?
2014-08-12 20:29

You are comparing apples with pears.

The BBC research is based on medical beds only.
The official figures from GGCHB combine both medical and surgical beds only – a completely different figure.

I know for a fact that surgery at Inverclyde gets cancelled and this data may give some insight into why – are operations being cancelled because surgical beds are being given over to medical cases?

Whilst clearly you have some issues with Ms Bradford, there may well be some merit in what she and her co author are saying. It does you no credit at all to simply rubbish her research without a bit of investigative work of your own.
2014-08-13 20:37

This reporter has a history of digging up “facts” harmful to the Scottish govt. The astonishing thing though is that we can have no confidence her employer the BBC will pull her up for a lack of professionalism and for showing bias.
The BBC anti-Indy spin seems to be throwing caution to the wind. It is also very demoralising for NHS staff to have their efforts questioned in such an inaccurate way.

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