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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