There are some wee saltires on display when the First Minister speaks. Perhaps that’s affecting Smith’s perceptions?
There are two inaccuracies in the headline above.
Nicola Sturgeon is not taking enough flak?
Does Smith not listen to his pals asking questions after the First Minister’s daily briefings?
Does he not listen the rants from Carlaw at First Minister’s Questions?
Has he not read the recent accusations of the same recently from even the Guardian and the FT?
Does he not read Common Weal’s regular sheep-savaging of the FM and the SNP?
Does he not watch Reporting Scotland for a repeat of Carlaw’s best bits?
Does he not watch Gordon Brewer?
Has he not read Macwhirter recently?
Does he not glance in passing at the Daily Express?
All of the above regularly use unreliable evidence about the pandemic in a desperate attempt to counter the FM’s mass support in the polls, across the UK. What more does Smith need? Does he need to go to that opticians?
The English get-out clause
If you want to understand how well a country’s public services are doing, comparison geographically and/or historically are the only ways.
Taking the last first, the published trends are clear. Deaths in all locations are falling fast. If they were not, the Scottish Government would be blamed so, they must take credit for what has happened. Is Smith aware of reports praising the Scottish Government for its success?
Geographical comparison of the effectiveness of public services only makes sense if you compare with another that is in many respects similar. Otherwise, if you compared Scotland with Uganda as Ian Murray has, there are too many variables. Culturally, economically, England is more like Scotland than most other countries, even in Europe. Statistics are collected in a similar way although there is evidence of a tendency to cover-up bad news in Tory England.
So, again, here is the evidence that too much flak would be unwarranted because Scotland just is doing far better than England:
- Higher recovery rate
- Lower excess mortality rate
- Mortality among BAME groups is lower than in ‘white’ population
- Death rate in care homes is lower than in England
- Mortality among key workers is lower:
- Assessment centres protected GP surgeries
- Better staffing
- Cleaner hospitals
- Better Government leadership
Evidence (Facts, you know?) below:
- Higher recovery rate:
According to GlobalData Epidemiologist Bahram Hassanpourfard, the global recovery rate is 32%. Hassanpourfard drew attention to the ‘UK’ rate of only 0.46% but I suspect that is based on inadequate data coming from the ONS.
As far as I can see, the ONS is not recording recovery rates at all. Why?
The Scottish recovery rate is known, with 9 075 recovering from 13 486 cases and 1 857 deaths giving a rate of 67.3%.
Given that Scotland’s population has the lowest life expectancy in the UK and one of the lowest in Europe, it seems reasonable to give NHS Scotland credit for this.
2. Lower excess mortality rate:
The z-score is effectively the number of standard deviations the measurement is away from the expected value….
…At the height of the pandemic, the top five in terms of peak z-score were England 42.75 (Wk 15), Spain 34.41 (Wk 14), Belgium 29.91 (Wk 15), Italy 22.16 (Wk 14) and France 21.17 (Wk 14)….
…England is also the worst-performing country on these islands. The peak z-score was 19.71 for Wales (less than half that of England), 8.90 for NI, 7.03 for Scotland and 3.95 for Ireland all in week 15.
3. Mortality among BAME groups is lower:
Only 4% of the Scottish population is recorded as one of the non-White ethnic minority groups. 98% of the deaths are registered as White so, crudely and not-too-reliably at this stage, the mortality rate among non-White groups is lower at only 2% [p34].
4. Death rate in care homes is lower and typical of Europe
data from research by LSE, reported on May 14th in Care Home Professional:
More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales have died during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research. In a new paper, the LSE said data on deaths had underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents as it did not take into account the indirect mortality effects of the pandemic and/or because of problems with the identification of the disease as the cause of death. The paper said current data only accounted for an estimated 41.6% of all excess deaths in care homes.
In Scotland, up to 17th May there were 1 623 deaths in care homes where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The population of England and Wales is 59 million, 10.7 times that of Scotland at 5.5 million so, all things being equal you might expect the death rate to be 10.7 times 1 623 or 17 366.
The actual care home death rate based on the LSE research is more than 22 000 and thus higher than in Scotland.
The Scottish care home rate is, sadly, just typical of the international pattern:
5. Mortality among key workers is lower:
The latest ONS mortality statistics for England and Wales show that 237 health and care workers and 47 teachers have been killed by the coronavirus up to 23 April – deaths in the three weeks since are not included.
As at 5 May, we have been notified by Health Boards or the Care Inspectorate of 7 deaths of healthcare workers and 6 deaths of social care workers, related to COVID-19. We are not able to confirm how many of these staff contracted COVID-19 through their work.
The UK has 12.6 times the population of Scotland so, pro rata, we might expect 12.6 times the deaths, 164, but it is 284.
6. Unique policy initiatives: Assessment centres to protect GP surgeries
In a bid to alleviate the pressure on GP surgeries, as of Monday this week, NHS Boards across Scotland started to use a unique system for treating patients experiencing symptoms. Today they have 50 dedicated coronavirus assessment centres set up across the country.’
And from Glasgow Live:
The new Community Assessment Centres (CACs) will be appointment-only hubs which will maximise the number of symptomatic people who can be cared for within the community. It will ensure that hospital capacity is used for those with the most serious illnesses and reduce the exposure of patients at GP surgeries and allow GPs to focus on providing care to patients with other complex health issues. A central CAC has opened on Barr Street and is operational from 8am to 10pm, with a view to moving to 24/7 when necessary. Other centres are expected to open in the city soon.
7. Better staffing
Scotland has 50% more nurses per head of population than NHS England:
Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK, research commissioned by the BBC shows. Analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank shows there are 76 GPs per 100,000 people, compared to a national UK average of 60.
8. Cleaner hospitals
From Health Protection Scotland on 13th December:
The provisional total of laboratory reports for norovirus in Scotland up to the end of week 49 of 2019 (week ending 8 December 2019) is 798. In comparison, to the end of week 49 in 2018 HPS received 1367 laboratory reports of norovirus. The five-year average for the same time period between years 2013 and 2017 is 1385.
Sepsis deaths recorded in England’s hospitals have risen by more than a third in two years, according to data collected by a leading safety expert. In the year ending April 2017, there were 15,722 deaths in hospital or within 30 days of discharge, where sepsis was the leading cause.
From NHS England:
The NHS is calling on the public to heed advice and stay at home if they have norovirus to avoid passing it on, as hospitals in England have been forced to close more than 1,100 hospital beds over the last week.Top medics are concerned about the spread of the winter vomiting bug this year and the impact it is having on hospitals and other services.
9. Better Government leadership
A special envoy to the World Health Organisation has said he is impressed with how Scotland is handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr David Nabarro said Nicola Sturgeon’s prudent approach to easing lockdown restrictions was a good policy.
He said he admired the approach by the Scottish Government and the public health authorities.
Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy for Covid-19, told the BBC: “Comparing Scotland with other parts of Europe, other parts of the world, I’d say you’re doing good because you are tackling it carefully and logically.
The chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Andrew Buist states:
Our NHS is changing, and at the forefront of that change is the primary care response. ….. There is a huge amount of work being put in from the Scottish Government and across the system and now is the time for us to pull together, for clear thinking and strong leadership.”