BBC propagandists are busted again over NHS claims

The BBC is sticking to its guns over a report that falsely claimed the Coalition government has increased spending on the NHS during each year it has been in office.

In its article on Harry Leslie Smith’s extraordinary speech to the Labour Party conference, the BBC News website desecrated his words by claiming: “The Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government has increased NHS spending each year during the current Parliament and both parties are committed to the founding values of the NHS that no-one, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care.”

Fellow blogger Tom Pride leapt to the attack, pointing out that the BBC had copied comments made by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and presented them as facts –


– when in fact they weren’t.

Vox Political then stepped into the fray, and Yr Obdt Srvt wrote a sternly-worded complaint to the Corporation, together with an article about the issue which appeared on this site.

The BBC has now responded and is trying to wheedle its way out of trouble. Here’s the email:

Thank you for getting in touch about our report.

We stated that:

The Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government has increased NHS spending each year during the current Parliament and both parties are committed to the founding values of the NHS that no-one, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care.

This is an accurate reflection of events as both parties did commit in the 2010 coalition agreement to pursue the original goals of the NHS.

However, because some readers were misinterpreting this to suggest the word “committed” represented an assertion by the BBC, the wording has been changed to say:

The Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government has increased NHS spending each year during the current Parliament and both parties committed in 2010 to the founding values of the NHS that no-one, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care.

Not good enough, BBC!

This response makes no reference at all to the most glaring error in the article – the claim that the Coalition has increased spending on the NHS.

Look at this table, from the UK Statistics Authority’s monitoring review paper, Real Terms Estimates for Health Expenditure in England over the Spending Review Period, 2010-11 to 2014-15. It shows known spending, according to the most up-to-date statistics available at the time (June 19 last year), along with estimates for the remainder of the current Parliament.


Did you notice the rows relating to changes in spending are all minus figures – meaning spending was less than intended? In those years when spending was known, it was less than for the 2009-10 financial year (when Labour was in office) meaning it is impossible for the BBC to claim that “the Coalition government has increased spending each year during the current Parliament” without revealing itself as a Coalition government propaganda organisation.

Claims that these spending figures relate only to England cannot invalidate them as the Coalition has limited the amount it provides to other countries in the UK. Funding for Wales, for example, has fallen by an average of 2.5 per cent per year, in real terms, between 2010-11 and 2012-13.

The BBC News website has even run a story on this subject.

As for “both parties committed in 2010 to the founding values of the NHS that no-one, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care“, take a look at this Daily Mail article, detailing the predicament of a gentleman who has been forced to pay £450 per month because his local Clinical Commissioning Group (brought into being by the Coalition government) would not provide him with a drug that is available free on the NHS elsewhere in England. Ironically, the cash-starved NHS in Wales is reported to have agreed to provide the drug.

Admittedly, the Daily Mail is always going to be a dodgy source of material, what with its long and well-deserved record of inaccuracy, but there are plenty of similar stories in the mainstream media.

So now we have a situation in which the BBC has lied to the public and, after the lies were pointed out, has tried to duck responsibility with more lies and evasion.

Faced with this kind of behaviour, there’s only one thing to do – publicise the transgression and demand a full public apology and correction.

Rest assured, you will read the next chapter of this story just as soon as the BBC responds. In the meantime, please share this article.

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  1. Steve Kind September 29, 2014 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Mike, for your vigilance – I received the same reply and, while unhappy with it, thought they had talked themselves out of the corner yet again – your figures are excellent ammunition

  2. Marilyn Sherratt September 30, 2014 at 5:26 am - Reply

    I also complained and had exactly the same response. Like Steve, I was not happy but didn’t know what to do next. Thanks for keeping the issue alive. As a life long BBC supporter, I am now sick and tired of them being a mouthpiece of this nasty government.

  3. Jeffrey Davies September 30, 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

    did you you think otherwise that the tory voice would go against it masters but we know they cut back on the nhs spending last count it was around 19billion but we also know that crapita atos salus serco virgin health with others working under the guise of nhs banner know we know these firms gets monies so the lies just get better the nhs has lost out to the private sector which gets its lost funding then bye the bye a little finds it way back has a tory bribe wallah its how they work jeff3

  4. Jono September 30, 2014 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Anybody watch BBC breakfast this morning? (Tue 30th Sep) Bill Turnbull actually gave David Cameron quite a grilling (relative to what we’ve come to expect from the mainstream media). Cameron looked incredibly weak, Turnbull asked him why are you attacking the working poor, and Cameron essentially replied saying he thought it was fair.15-20 minutes later Turnbull began saying David Cameron was on the show earlier… before being cut off and had to appologise saying they were moving on to the next story. another 15-20 minutes later they returned to the Cameron story, but ignored all of the grilling bits and managed to show the only sentence that Cameron sounded vaguely strong on, which was something along the lines of how he thinks ISIS aren’t very nice people. I’ve been a bit dubious about BBC bias claims, because often your own bias can make unbiased news appear biased, but the stark contrast here between: a) the actual Cameron interview and how it was represented half an hour later and b) how they were quick to attack Milliband and focus on the more negative Labour policies whilst treating the Conservatives like a cradle of kittens spending money on the NHS and supporting people into work, was so blatantly obvious it was impossible to deny.

  5. Yantob1791 September 30, 2014 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I’ll never forgive the BBC for their ‘reporting’ of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me; cancelled my licence and not paid a penny since.

  6. Ian Duncan September 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    It’s obvious the BBC are in fear of their we really should give them something to fear by asking for refunds of the licence fee en masse. Problem is t would take some organising and how many want to miss Strictly Come Dancing or whatever horsesh*t is distracting the little people these days?

    In other news, IBS is considering putting benefit payments on a pre-pay entitlement card and making the money spendable only on items approved by the DWP…

    The time to physically eject this decadent, disgusting government is here, I think. Can we really hang on til May til they’re hopefully replaced by a Labour party that has so far been equivocal at best on the subject of ‘welfare’?

  7. Florence September 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mike on behalf of all of us for your tenacity and ability to focus on the core issue. I too will follow closely what response the BBC has for you. I did see a news item to day where there was a grilling about “attacking poor people” on the BBC, so maybe even they have seen the turning of the tide, and realised that the Tories will not be their masters beyond 2015.

    Or maybe they will just not allow any live interviews, and keep their fingers crossed?

    Or maybe the coverage of the Hong Kong democracy demos (always a diversion from reporting actual UK news) will rebound in inspiring some of us to get out & start doing the same here? Here’s hoping.

  8. Barry Davies October 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Well to be fair the chief executives and other executives pay has been vastly increased whilst the other staff like the unnecessary frontline workers pay has effectively been cut so overall the spending has increased.

    • Mike Sivier October 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      It doesn’t work like that, Barry. There’s the difference between ‘cash terms’ and ‘real terms’ spending, for example. You can increase ‘cash terms’ spending and still be unable to buy as much as before, due to inflation. The BBC doesn’t think it needs to mention that.

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