THE BBC has been accused of misleading viewers by reporting on measures to tackle shortages of protective equipment for medical staff – but failing to mention it only applied to England.

New government guidelines concerning reuse of personal protective equipment (PPE) were raised in a studio discussion on BBC News at Ten on Friday night.

However the report failed to mention they had been issued by the Department of Health for England – and the Scottish Government had not made any such recommendations.

The SNP has now made a formal complaint to the BBC saying the omission was “massively misleading”.

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said: “The BBC network news seems to have forgotten that they cover Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and not just England.

“Journalists working in extremely challenging conditions on the front line are to be commended – but the value of news is undermined by an inability to consistently reflect the fact that within the UK there are four governments with four separate health services.”

READ MORE: Jackson Carlaw claims BBC Scotland has pro-SNP bias in complaint

The BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym started the studio discussion by saying there were reports that “some, but by no means all hospitals may run short of gowns [for intensive care] or even run out in the next few days”.

He went on: “So these new guidelines tonight will tell staff that they can reuse some protective equipment if it is laundered, the other equipment as well, in certain circumstances.

“Now the British Medical Association representing doctors says this is a dire situation, it is because of government failings to get enough supplies of PPE.

“The Department of Health and Social Care says there is a global shortage of gowns, but the new guidelines are designed to reassure staff what they can do if they do run short and they have been supported by the Health and Safety Executive.”

Lewis Goodall, the policy editor at BBC Newsnight, had also tweeted concerns about the guidelines on Friday night, saying some of the advice which had been given was “extraordinary”.

He quoted one doctor as saying: “To put this in context this means me walking into a bay of four patients who are all on high flows of oxygen and coughing with just an apron, a mask and a pair of gloves … We were already taking risks with this, but this change is intolerable.”

However Goodall said the change in guidance did only apply to England, pointing to statements from both the Scottish and Welsh governments.

He tweeted: “I’ve been told by both the Scottish and Welsh governments that they will not be making changes to their PPE guidance, because both have adequate gown stocks.

“The new PPE guidance, where items can be reused if stocks run low or out, will therefore only be in place in England.”

The complaint submitted by the SNP to the BBC says: “This omission is massively misleading for the audience.

“UK-wide news that ignores and therefore misrepresents the situation in Scotland diminishes what was a powerful news package.”

“You advised in March that guidance on reporting of the nations and the different NHSs of the UK had been issued to editors and journalists, yet these problems persist.”

The letter calls on the BBC to clarify the situation in its main broadcast bulletins.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We take accuracy very seriously, especially during a public health crisis.

"We should have specified on the BBC News at Ten that these guidelines only apply in England. We have made this clear today wherever we have reported this story."

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