The BBC, now officially the unofficial news station for the Conservative party, came a cropper over the weekend when Hugh Squim, the oleaginous health editor for Broadcasting British Conservatism, reported that a leaked draft NHS white paper proposing radical changes to the NHS ‘would see a reduced role for the private sector’, when in fact it says nothing of the sort. Squim subsequently re-wrote the offending paragraph after being hand-bagged on twitter by the redoubtable Prof P, but the episode only goes to show how sloppy the BBC news reporting has become. It is the BBC’s job to give us unbiased fact based news, not our job to correct it’s shoddy reporting with the true facts. What can we glean from the leaked draft?
This last week, another rapid covid–19 test hit the fan. The story is becoming boringly familiar. A company announces a new covid–19 test, and puts a high gloss on the test’s performance. Ministers respond by placing large orders. Later, it turns out the company has been polishing a turd, as real world studies show the test’s performance is, err, crap, and ministers find that instead of getting more bang for their buck, they have got more crap for their cash. Such are the rewards for ministers who admire their reflections on the faces of polished turds. What made this particular turd/fan disintegration situation more notable than some is the suggestion, made by the BMJ and denied by the DHSC, that the government had known all along it was buying a polished turd, but deliberately suppressed the information, because it would get in the way of procurement.