In another classic ‘blue meanie’ report from Helen McArdle, the Herald’s Visiting Health Correspondent, with that other ‘blue meanie’ Hugh Penningtom in her corner, we get a desperate attempt to make sure we don’t start thinking that NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government or Scots for that matter played any part in the stark and growing divide between the coronavirus death rate in Scotland and in England.

First, using evidence from South-East Asia she concludes that population density will have been a big factor, with England having a much higher level than Scotland. This is the first daft one. Central Scotland where nearly all of the deaths are and thus where lower rate is based, is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe.

Second she goes for ethnicity, correctly pointing out that the death rate is higher in more diverse areas such as London and the Midlands and that this is less true of Scotland but then she puzzles the reader on poverty. She notes that the higher death rate in Glasgow may be down to greater poverty there but then fails to note that this would surely be expected to have increased the overall Scottish death rate.

There was no way she was going to find in our favour here but there is much evidence that the lower death rate has been earned.

There’s no mention of the fact that Scotland has a far higher base mortality rate than England and that despite that coronavius deaths are lower.

There’s no mention of NHS Scotland’s higher staffing ratio.

There’s no mention of the fact that Scotland’s hospitals with their in-house cleaning did not have mass Norovirus closures last winter as NHS England did.

There’s no mention of NHS Scotland’s vastly superior A&E performance.

There’s no mention of Scotland’s 50 unique coronavirus assessment centres keeping infected patients away from GP surgeries.

There’s no mention of the evidence that urban Scots have obeyed the social distancing rules more than their counterparts in the South.

I have the evidence for all these claims. They’re easy found. Any half-baked health correspondent will have the necessary research skills.

Footnote: See this paragraph in McArdle’s report:

‘The reason for the large discrepancy between the two nations is unclear. It could be partly skewed by the smaller sample size in Scotland, but there have also been reports of doctors recording Covid deaths as something else – for example, pneumonia, dementia or old age. It is possible this is happening more frequently in England than Scotland.’

Readers will know that I’m not a ‘leading’ statistician but, ‘sample size?’ Surely these are not samples but all of the recorded data and the Scottish data are now ‘truer’ after using the NRS data for more than a week?

And, if doctors in England were ‘recording Covid deaths as something else‘ wouldn’t that have the effect of reducing the discrepancy not making it large?