I am discrediting the data: Marr’s hatchet job on Sturgeon uses dodgy stats again

I understand why a political leader cannot be seen to get into a spat with ‘researchers’ and not go for Marr’s jugular when he, as before, repeats dodgy stats as if they were facts.

First the Royal College of Emergency Medicine is not an independent, ‘expert’ group, but essentially a trade union. OK, a middle-class professional association, but still one with an agenda, first and foremost, to protect and promote their members pay and conditions. Their claims of 230 dead due to A&E delays are not even remotely credible. See below.

Marr then goes on to imply reduced bed numbers have been a factor in this. The FM does correct him but the damage is done.

Here’s what I wrote two weeks ago, still rebutting all of Marr’s shoddy journalism today.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has estimated (Why did the FM say ‘extrapolate?) that more than 230 people have died in Scotland this year because of long delays in emergency departments. No such data is collected so, based on their assertion that data show that for every 67 patients waiting 8-12 hours ‘one of them will come to harm’, they then just use that to divide the total waiting for that time in 2021 to come up with their 230.

This is shoogly peg statistics as any student would know.

Leaving aside the uncertainty of how ‘coming to harm’ becomes ‘die’ in the headline, doesn’t the triage system ensure that those at risk of dying have been prioritised and it is those not at risk who wait longer? Is the head of the RCEM Scotland suggesting that this does not happen for some reason and that his colleagues are making mistakes?

As for today:

Parts of NHS Scotland are no doubt under heavy pressure but the overall figures deny a nation-wide crisis.

First, A&E waiting times:

In Scotland during September 2021, 76.1% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.

In September 2021, NHS England A&E departments saw 64% within 4 hours

In September 2021, NHS Wales A&E departments saw 66.8% within 4 hours

The Northern Ireland figures have been delayed to 12 November but in June, only 59.7% were seen within 4 hours.

These are big differences when you remember they mean thousands more patients being seen on time on Scotland than they would have in the rest of the UK/

Second, availability of beds:

In England, there are 415 people for every bed but in Scotland, only 265 for every bed. So, Scotland has almost twice as many hospital beds per head of population than England and Northern Ireland and significantly more than Wales.

Third, nurses:

Scotland has 50% more nurses, per head of population, in the first than NHS England. The current vacancy rate for nurses in England, is 10.3%, 30% higher than in Scotland.

Fourth, GPs and consultants:

According to the latest available published information, the number of hospital consultants in Scotland per 100,000 population is 101 WTE (whole or full-time equivalent), compared to 86 WTE in England and 81 WTE in Wales. According to the latest available published information, the number of GP’s in Scotland per 100,000 population is 92 (headcount), compared to 73 (headcount) in England and 70 (headcount) in Wales.

Sources:

https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/ae-activity-and-waiting-times/ae-activity-and-waiting-times-month-ending-30-september-2021/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ae-waiting-times-and-activity/

https://gov.wales/nhs-activity-and-performance-summary-august-and-september-2021-html

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/hs-niwts-ecwt-interactive-q1-21-22.html

https://www.interweavetextiles.com/how-many-hospital-beds-uk/

https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/written-questions-and-answers/question?ref=S5W-22501

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/news/scotland-nhs-nursing-vacancies-at-record-high-070921

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-vacancies-survey/april-2015—june-2021-experimental-statistics#:~:text=Data%20from%20NHS%20England%20and,10.3%25%20(37%2C760%20vacancies).

https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/debates-and-questions/questions/2019/04/03/s5w22502

12 thoughts on “I am discrediting the data: Marr’s hatchet job on Sturgeon uses dodgy stats again

  1. Thought marr wasn’t really getting anywhere with his soggy toothpick job but I’m used to him.

    BTW fm’s extrapolate:(Google)
    “Extend the application of (a method or conclusion) to an unknown situation by assuming that existing trends will continue or similar methods will be applicable.
    ‘the results cannot be extrapolated to other patient groups'”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Marr has got a team of boffins (with plenty of time on their hands) to “Make Up Misleading Points” very hard for the Fm to rebut them when they are fired at her live on Telly. And if she gets it wrong the BBC would be very angry with her.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Clydebuilt
        NS & her back room team should be well prepared for all this
        She is continually put into this nefarious & invidious situation
        After all she is a qualified Lawyer and knows full well
        That when dodgy evidence presents
        Then your prime function is to immediately discredit such evidence
        Then turn to all and state
        ” Well who do you choose to believe now”
        Because i have in my position far more Qualified reliable information
        And while we are at it Also for England I have similar facts
        I do believe our English friends have a strong liking for comparative performance tables
        Ah but my dear Andrew just maybe you are not permitted to let listeners in the rest of the UK hear it
        Not my credibility at stake here but that of you and your employers

        Like

  2. And I think it’s high time supposed independence supporters got off her back, and got behind her, instead.
    This Marr ‘show’ is a merely a production to try and show English viewers that Scotland (and it’s leader) is rubbish, in all aspects.
    Yet the comparison when Nicola gives an interview and her counterpart in Westmonster does the same, is clearly visible to all – I’m betting most folk in England would love to swap her for the Fat Boy of the Remove!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. As you say John the damage is done and that’s the whole point of propaganda headlines.
    My anti independence neighbours will believe it even if their own experience doesn’t reflect the media stories. I hear they know someone who has to go to ‘two different hospitals for appointments’, horror of horrors. They will blame the SNP should the SNHS fall into private hands due to the EngGovs’ ‘Internal market bill’, and they have to pay for an appointment with their GP etc.

    Scotland is in great peril, the SNP though up against the so called media, somehow need to ditch any softly softly approach and keep repeating what the EngGov are doing and planning for Scotland. As we know, the EngGov BritNat state are going to take Scotland back decades, to being poorest part of their UK, with massive inequality and no way out for the young, options being the army or picking fruit, no uni education, no apprenticeships, no future, as the song goes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Contrary to the criticisms of some, I honestly believe the FM and her advisers have played a blinder by the strategy of reserved criticism and leaving Scots to judge rather than playing that tired old “trial by media” game.
    How did the QEUH saga work out, infamously the “what about Millie Maye ?
    How did failing education work out ?
    How did the UK bogus “deficit” work out ?
    How are Covid mitigations working out ?
    Where are the marches against A, B, C etc., where are the public protests ?

    The objections are not arising because most distrust the messenger – The media in Scotland have exposed themselves as a mafia with a clear political agenda, and when it comes to HMS Sarah Smith do any actually believe anything they are seeing/hearing beyond the weather forecast ? I suggest any that do are damned few.

    Marr knows his career as BBC token Scot is over, some other shmuck will take over to talk to the brick wall of Scottish obstinacy, and it won’t have any more impact when they are so distrusted..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry Bob I disagree and I have said as much before now. In my view the FM is not being properly briefed by her advisors especially on these important issues which is uppermost in most people’s minds. Appearing on Marr she must know that she is going to be quizzed on the NHS, Covid & Education and to be unable to forcibly rebutt his ‘dodgy’ stats with the SG’s own is not acceptable to my mind. He has done this before so she should have been amply prepared. Moreover when we have possibly the worst UK Gov, the most inept PM, the Tories up to their necks in corruption, scandals etc and yet we are still seeing in the polls the idea of separation from the UK on a knife edge. Not good enough.

      Like

  5. The gov in Wales includes type 1 and type 2 A&E departments in its performance data, but the other countries don’t. Type 1 is what you normally think of as an A&E dept. So the actual comparat figure for Wales will be much lower.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The quote Marr provided from the RCEM just confirmed that they were extrapolating to Scotland. Even for England, they appear to have no direct confirmation of their “predictions” of deaths, which the media have of course taken to mean actual deaths.

    The full version of their report, which “analyses” the effects of crowding on emergency departments, is https://rcem.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/RCEM_Why_Emergency_Department_Crowding_Matters.pdf.

    In that report, they refers to papers that have looked into this in other countries, including one headed “Emergency department crowding: A systematic review of causes, consequences and solutions”, which is published here – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0203316

    In that paper, which they seem to rely on for the general thrust of their argument, it says –
    “The quality of the studies investigating consequences of crowding were variable, with only one high quality, prospective study included. This was also the only study that did not find a link between crowding and the primary outcome measure, in this case increased inpatient mortality. It did appear that the authors of some of the lower quality studies were determined to prove a negative consequence between ED crowding and their outcome of interest.”

    Now I’m no expert, but that quote would at least seem to cast some doubt on their conclusions. To be fair, as a non-expert, I might expect some correlation between crowding and death, but the evidence they used seems weak.

    Note: The killer quote from the full RCEM paper is –
    “By applying this mortality data, we can estimate the amount of excess inpatient deaths that occur due to crowding. In 2021 so far, of those who waited 8-12 hours in an ED, there have been 303 excess deaths in Scotland and 709 excess deaths in Wales.”

    Interesting how they segue from “estimate” in the first sentence to “there have been” in the second sentence.
    NB: It’s not possible to estimate the possible number of deaths in English A&E departments because the NHS in England does not publish data for 8-12 hour waits!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. From George:

    “The quote Marr provided from the RCEM just confirmed that they were extrapolating to Scotland. Even for England, they appear to have no direct confirmation of their “predictions” of deaths, which the media have of course taken to mean actual deaths.

    The full version of their report, which “analyses” the effects of crowding on emergency departments, is https://rcem.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/RCEM_Why_Emergency_Department_Crowding_Matters.pdf.

    In that report, they refer to papers that have looked into this in other countries, including one headed “Emergency department crowding: A systematic review of causes, consequences and solutions”, which is published here – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0203316

    In that paper, which they seem to rely on for the general thrust of their argument, it says –
    “The quality of the studies investigating consequences of crowding were variable, with only one high quality, prospective study included. This was also the only study that did not find a link between crowding and the primary outcome measure, in this case increased inpatient mortality. It did appear that the authors of some of the lower quality studies were determined to prove a negative consequence between ED crowding and their outcome of interest.”

    Now I’m no expert, but that quote would at least seem to cast some doubt on their conclusions. To be fair, as a non-expert, I might expect some correlation between crowding and death, but the evidence they used seems weak.

    Note: The killer quote from the full RCEM paper is –
    “By applying this mortality data, we can estimate the amount of excess inpatient deaths that occur due to crowding. In 2021 so far, of those who waited 8-12 hours in an ED, there have been 303 excess deaths in Scotland and 709 excess deaths in Wales.”

    Interesting how they segue from “estimate” in the first sentence to “there have been” in the second sentence.
    NB: It’s not possible to estimate the possible number of deaths in English A&E departments because the NHS in England does not publish data for 8-12 hour waits!”

    Like

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