BBC Scotland’s numeracy: Am I missing something here?

to the 11th January.

When I saw that ‘about 50 200’ this morning, I thought two things.

First, there were 160 000 staff in Scotland in September 2021 and more than 50 000 of them were off in one week? The average 12 year-old pupil has been taught to recognise the implausible and go back to the numbers again.

Second, why ‘about?’ Surely the official figures will be precise?

The website has more but not better:

Covid-related absences in the NHS are at their highest levels since April 2020, the month after the first virus case was confirmed in Scotland.

Official figures show about 50,200 NHS staff were off work in the week to 11 January.

The record absence level remains the first week of April 2020, when more than 65,000 NHS staff were absent.

The numbers have soared due to the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant and the strict isolation rules.

Combined with rising numbers of Covid patients, it has led to increased pressures on health and social care services in Scotland.

The official data is easily accessed, though you do have top scroll down to get the weekly data:

Wait, what about the ‘about 50 200?’ Like an arithmophobic 5 year-old, they’ve been adding up the daily figures and counting the same person up to seven times!

For interest, the 65 000 in April?

10 501 and 7 174? Not that close? Trying to scare us? Trying to imply failure in SNP management of the NHS?

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11 thoughts on “BBC Scotland’s numeracy: Am I missing something here?

  1. Thanks to you, John, we’ve witnessed quite some contortions of facts and truth by BBC Shortbread, but this one takes it to a new low in its wilful and cynical manipulation. Who needs Chinese spies, eh?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Message to BBC Scotland…..1 + 1 = 2
    Are they stupid? When you do a weekly shop that is usually £90 and the teller says that’s £196 your instincts know this is wrong as does the teller who stated the stupidly high figure. The teller put your goods over the scanner and knows that there were no tins of caviar in your shop. The teller was on auto pilot with the brain temporarily disengaged. This I suspect is what happened here, a person at the Beeb not understanding numbers as they were higher than 10.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. And……….round it up to the nearest million.

    Or as Gove would say…”When in Elgin, just make it up”!

    Or Fraserhead and Peterburgh, or just any old name that pops into an empty head!


  4. BBC misunderstanding or …. what? Is this at the root of their ‘problem’?

    One full-time member of staff off for five days in a week = five Full Time Equivalent days ‘lost’ in week: one person during that week was off work, for all of it

    Five full-time members of staff off each for only one day in a week = five Full Time Equivalent days ‘lost’ in week: five people during that week were off work, for part of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. An unattributed article again on the web-page….
    Did they simply publish and broadcast the information as they’ve come to so trust the Scottish Office releases ?
    Another “Eh?” moment was “The numbers have soared due to the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant and the strict isolation rules”, having just said the April 2020 figures had been higher
    – Why mention “strict isolation rule” ? Because England’s are SLIGHTLY different.

    For sure this is a propaganda piece from the Andrew Bowie RN-Failed school of information….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All staff. Not just on the front line. Overall staff. Admin staff are even working from home.

    Clerical appointments, porters cooks, van drivers etc. Admin staff.

    Not the % of critical, crucial frontline staff. Doctors and nurses. That figure for Covid concentration will be much lower.

    The MSM total lack of investigate reporting. Not analysing the figures properly. They cannot count or read a balance sheet. Many non essential services are postponed. Or people are choosing to not attend. Leaving crucial, critical staff to attend to Covid challenges. There will be more concentration on them. Including the necessary staff.

    The Press panic of the pandemic. Alarming people and making them anxious. The death rate is going down,


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