2nd December 2016

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That's news
News and Comment from Roy Lilley
Harassed didn't quite do it.  Stressed, wound-up, fragile might get somewhere near it.

Over a cup of friends-of-the-hospital latte we sat and had a chat.

'I know why they do it and of course, I respect the freedom of speech and all the rest but, it's getting ridiculous.'

I was talking to (we'll call her Sarah), a Trust comm's and PR person.  She is a mum; once worked in local press, a journalist by trade, who is trying to put a polish on some of the duller news from a Trust.

She pulled her blonde hair behind her ear, leaned forward and spoke in whispers; 'Why do they do it?  They know the answers.  They know it's a mess.  It costs a fortune...'

Her voice tailed off. 

Here's the situation;  this year the Trust doubled their budget to deal with Freedom of Information requests.

Back in 2012 the then Prime Minister David Cameron told the Justice Select Committee that FOI was; "furring up the arteries" of government, adding that the current question-and-answer format could be superseded by regular publications.

I get that, absolutely, publish everything we have; especially during times of cuts and turmoil.  People have the right to know what's going on and how decisions are being made.  But.... and it is a BIG but... some local authorities are spending, approaching half a million a year on FOI enquiries.

In 2012, in the NHS, one estimate put costs at 30m.  I guess we are now at 50m.

The BBC once used to report the news, now they try and invent stories.  Like all other news channels, they are rolling 24hrs a day and they need stories, ideas and to fill the airways.

The easy thing is to look for a soft target and find a new angle.

So, because programme producers are not very innovative, reporters lazy and editors plain desperate... they turn to the NHS.  There is always a story.

"Ambulance services are struggling to reach seriously ill and injured patients quickly enough after rising demand has left the system over-stretched... a BBC investigation has found."

Really?  It took a BBC investigation to discover that?  I know that.  You know that.  Pretty well every daily newspaper knew that.  Anyone working in the NHS knew that and anyone who has rung for an ambulance knew that.

Every local newspaper knew that, every local BBC correspondent knew that.  Every bloke in the queue in the chip shop knew that.

It's a story for the history channel.

In fairness, people living in a cave in outer Mongolia may not have known.

Can anyone tell me why it would have been necessary for the BBC (using taxpayers hard-earned) to FOI every ambulance trust (running on less and less of the tax-payer's hard earned) to ask them for the state of play... causing them to spend more of their budgets (the taxpayer's hard earned) and answer.

They could have phoned and asked... too difficult and expensive for the BBC.  They are cost shifting their research budget.  They could have sent a reporter... that would entail effort.

They could have looked on NHS Digital's web-site and ferreted about... that takes research nouse and even more effort, analytic skills, intelligence, understanding and working at a high, independent, investigative level.

The BBC are troublemaking and lazy.  If you get an FoI from them shred it and see what happens.  

My guess is nothing will happen; they are too bone idle to do proper research and too bone idle to follow anything up.

Here's an idea; write to the BBC and under the FOI rules, ask them how many FOI's they did last year. That's news.
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STP Summit

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Published on 10th January; launched at the 
STP Summit 
RCN Conference Centre 
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Expect contributions from... 
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Peter Wyman
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24th January 2017
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