Labour’s Jackie Baillie admits blanket-share claims were false


By G.A.Ponsonby
Labour’s under fire health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie has been forced to admit that claims she made that patients in a Paisley hospital had been forced to share blankets were entirely false.
The admission, published in the Sunday Herald, from the Dumbarton MSP follows accusations she made at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee this weekend.

Ms Baillie had claimed that SNP cuts had left patients at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital with a shortage of blankets that meant people were forced to share.

The Labour MSP claimed that some patients had been forced into using dressing gowns as an alternative.

In her Dundee conference speech, she said: “Don’t believe the SNP spin about protecting the NHS, they can see all too well the practical consequences of SNP cuts on their wards.

“This is not just an NHS straining to cope with increased demand and fewer resources, this is an NHS which is in danger of crumbling around us.

“And the SNP can’t even get the basics rights.  In one hospital, in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, patients are even having to share blankets because of the cuts.

“The truth is, the fault lies with the SNP because even in times of plenty, they have underfunded the NHS. “

However, a spokesperson for Greater Glasgow and Clyde immediately questioned Ms Baillie’s claims saying they had been proven false weeks ago.

“This matter was raised with us a few weeks ago, and we were able to provide proof that there was no truth in this claim.

“Extra blankets are available in all our hospital as and when patients need them.” said the spokesperson.

A spokesman for Ms Baillie defended the accusations saying they had “clear correspondence from a number of constituents showing this was the case”.

Implying a possible cover up on the part of the health board he added: “If the Health Board tries to cover this up rather than deal with it, that is an extremely serious matter.  It is unacceptable for patients to have to use their dressing gowns as a blanket because there are not enough.”

However, buried away in a Sunday Herald article, the Labour health spokesperson has now admitted that her claim that patients were being forced to share blankets was entirely false.

The admission from the Labour MSP comes barely two months after similar claims were exposed as untrue.

In January Ms Baillie issued a statement attacking the SNP by claiming that the Scottish NHS topped the European league for hospital infections.

Ms Baillie’s claims were later exposed as false after it emerged that the league table placings were actually based on data from 2005/6 – a period when Ms Baillie’s own party, Labour, had been in charge.

[Newsnet Scotland comment – This latest accusation by Jackie Baillie received widespread coverage from the Scottish media.  In January her false NHS infection claims received similar coverage – with BBC Scotland allowing Ms Baillie a platform in order to broadcast the accusations.

The suggestion of a cover-up by Ms Baillie’s spokesman when responding to health board claims that the blanket story was nonsense, and had been proven so, has served only to compound this latest blunder.

Despite these latest claims now being shown to be absolutely false there has been no similar high profile coverage of this admission, nor any apparent desire to pursue Ms Baillie for an explanation.

Politicians will embellish, obfuscate and interpret figures to suit their own political agendas.  However when politicians resort to fabrication and, what amounts to bare faced lying, then it is incumbent on our ‘guardians of democracy’ to shine the spotlight on the culprit, especially if the media have been duped into promulgating a falsehood … more than once.

This article and comment is on our front page.  We do not have the coverage of BBC Scotland or the circulation of our national newspapers – we did though manage to attract over 89,000 unique visitors to this site last month, so quite a few people will be aware of this story who otherwise may not have.

Let’s see if a radio presenter will read out this article headline on Good Morning Scotland when they review the newspapers – after all, it’s unlikely anyone else will cover the story and the BBC will surely want to address a myth that they have been unwittingly duped into circulating.]