Letters: We must shine a light on the failings of the BBC in Scotland

WRITING as one who was a patient in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital throughout 2017, I concur completely with Alan Roden’s article (“Why are London TV bosses ignoring Scots hospital scandal?”, The Herald, December 31).

Having given my evidence remotely and extensively to Lord Brody’s Inquiry, I have no wish to reiterate my representations here. However, I am obliged to put on the record that what I expected to be one operation for a simple knee replacement resulted in three further operations in the QUEH, three hospital-acquired infections and three additional operations at another hospital. I have no doubt that Lord Brody will be giving these matters the focus they invite.

Adding to Mr Roden’s comments, I would like to suggest that so far as the BBC is concerned, his justified misgivings work both ways. BBC Scotland is astonishingly parochial. Indeed, if I did not watch the UK Parliamentary channel I would be unaware on numerous occasions that issues relevant to Scotland were simply ignored by BBC Scotland.

I feel sure that Mr Roden would agree that diversity and accountability are not being met by the BBC on either side of the Border and Scottish affairs could easily be broadcast from the First Minister’s residence at Bute House. As an example, when I have been listening to the radio version of First Minister’s Questions, on two occasions recently I found they were cut off as soon as Anas Sarwar rose to speak, and a summary of the SNP-Tory exchange which listeners had just heard was repeated by a political correspondent. Mr Roden’s article has done a great service to fair-minded Scots and one which requires open debate.

Sir Tom Clarke, Former Labour MP, Coatbridge.

* ALAN Roden is guilty of both over-dramatising and over-simplifying the issues surrounding the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The individual cases referred to are distressing and tragic, but an independent expert review published in June 2020 into the deaths four years ago found that the link between two patients with Cryptococcus infection and bird-borne carriage of the organism does not have a sound evidential basis.

Para 9.12.18 also stated: “Theories, hypotheses and possibilities have been transmitted and discussed in the media and Scottish Parliament in a way that has given them an undeserved provenance.” Since the deaths four years ago, numerous improvement measures have already been put in place and there is an ongoing public inquiry into the hospital.

In the pre-Covid year up to March 2020, the number of patients who caught acquired infections at the Queen Elizabeth was less than the Scottish average of one per cent. To put this into context, the average in Europe is three per cent and more than seven per cent in England. No wonder 23 senior clinicians wrote to outline their “immense disappointment and frustration” at the way their hospitals are being portrayed in Parliament and in the media.

As for the BBC’s coverage of health matters, when did you last hear that Scotland’s Covid record of fewer deaths, fewer cases and higher vaccination rates is better than elsewhere in the UK? BBC Scotland’s continuous undermining of Scotland’s health message is not replicated elsewhere in the UK and has sown confusion, not helped by Boris Johnson & Co surrounding themselves with Union flags when delivering England-only health messages.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


JOHN Dunlop encapsulates the utter negativity of those of a unionist persuasion with his letter headed “So let’s abolish Holyrood” (December 31).

Throughout this past year and indeed for several years before, Union-supporting correspondents to your Letters Pages have poured out an incessant stream of criticism of anything Scottish. It appears to matter not whether that which is being attacked is in fact a world best or of a higher standard than in other countries. Their maxim appears to be “it’s Scottish, it is bad”. What is conspicuous by its absence is any argument which shows the benefit of Westminster rule.

Sadly, another feature has been the constant personal attacks on Nicola Sturgeon. This is in spite of the fact that she has far higher approval ratings than any other UK leader and vastly better than Boris Johnson. I can only assume unionists have adopted this tactic to assuage their deep embarrassment at the levels of sleaze current in the UK Government.

I realise that after Culloden there was a concerted effort to anglicise the Scots and make them believe that everything Scots was low class and to be shunned and it now appears that the unionist letter writers are perpetuating this policy.

David Stubley, Prestwick.


I THANK Iain W Thomson and Brian D Henderson (Letters, December 30) for their insightful comments on my “sycophantic drivel” letter (December 29) regarding royalty. May I add that I had mentioned in it the current state of the United States following its shaking off of the shackles of serfdom in the 18th century.

There are 195 countries in the world but only 26 of them have monarchies; 12 of these are in Europe. There are only seven European countries with populations greater than one million that currently have monarchs. Having a royal family is the exception rather than the rule and European neighbours such as France and Germany seem to function effectively without one; look how well Ireland has done since it jumped ship.

From the day we are born we plebs are indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing that the UK system is a shining example and a beacon of hope to all foreigners. Post-Brexit, the only people who seem to believe that is us and those refugees desperately escaping war elsewhere: often wars that UK armed forces are currently or have been involved in.

Today the UK is in reality a country where hard-fought concessions such as a free NHS, freedom of speech, state pensions and free education are being gradually whittled away by a Westminster Parliament controlled by the Establishment. The class system at work here has favoured the rich and well-connected for centuries as the latest £330,000 hand-out of your and my taxes to some hereditary peer and millionaire to fix his drive graphically demonstrates (“Gove pressured on £330k award to repair ex-Tory peer’s potholes”, The Herald, December 30). Leading Scottish aristocratic families including the Queen’s estate have received CAP payments in excess of £14 million in the last five years. The examples are endless. Meanwhile back in real-world Britain poverty and homelessness are increasing. The linchpin that keeps this iniquitous system functioning is the monarchy; time to pull the pin.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


WE now know that more children are in hospital with Omicron. We have also known for some time that classrooms provide ideal breeding and transmission grounds for all Covid strains.

Schools seem to be exempt from the health and safety laws that protect others. So no face masks for many, no social distancing, no extractors.

What legal protection is left? Do local and national Scottish authorities not have a duty of care for children?

As employers, they already ignore their duty of care for school staff. Staff are expected to put themselves into high-risk classrooms without any protection provided.

What is being done now – before the start of term – to protect children from Omicron in schools? And the adults they infect?

What is being done now to protect the health service from a higher number of children needing hospital treatment for Omicron? And the adults they infect?

Maureen Bisset, Dunfermline.


I WRITE in reference to your article regarding mobile phones in prisons (“‘Hack-proof’ mobiles confiscated 2,000 times in Scotland’s prisons”, The Herald, December 28). I am a short-term prisoner in Barlinnie. I am being released after a six-month sentence at the end of February.

The mobile phones issued by the Scottish Prisons Service have been amazing at keeping people sane. The phones themselves are very basic, have no internet access, can only access centrally-programmed numbers and a have a built-in FM-only radio that is only accessible when using headphones – the prisoner is responsible for purchase of the earbuds.

Apart from the obvious calls home I have used the radio for many hours and this has helped so much.

Douglas Ross seems to be passionate about opposing and/or rejecting anything from the Scottish Government to prove his attendance at the parliament.

Regarding the numbers quoted – there is a small minority of offenders who seem intent on breaking the rules and spoiling it for the rest of us, whilst we bide our time, keeping quiet and keeping our heads down waiting for release.

AJ Docherty, c/o HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow.

Read more: For my country’s future, I choose facts, not fear

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