The Herald today has a classic example of the selective use and description of statistics to get a story, to malign a health board and to accuse government of failure to recruit nurses.
Let’s start with the facts.
The Herald headlines:
Nurses are resorting to whistleblowing channels to highlight staff shortages in Scotland’s biggest health board, as unions warn the national picture is “critical”. The number of employee complaints investigated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has doubled this year, figures show.
Figures show the health board investigated 29 whistleblower complaints from April 2021-2022, with 14 related to hospitals, nine designated “corporate” and two involving the prison service.
But the supposed doubling is not made explicit until 14 paragraphs later:
NHS GGC launched inquiries into ten complaints from February to April 2022, compared to five in the first quarter of the financial year.
So, it’s a variation in one three-month period to another from 5 to 10? In percentage terms for complaints at that level, ‘doubling’ but in terms of percentages of all staff, 41 000, it’s the statistically insignificant increase from 0.012% to 0.024%.
More important, this is not an annual change as implied in the headline. Why, we ask – because the annual change is not headline worthy?
And, ‘to highlight staff shortages?
Six complaints about staff shortages were either partially upheld or upheld.
On less than six occasions (1 even?) in a workforce of many thousands, were complaints about staff shortages fully upheld?
Finally, in the Herald article but not credited as the actual explanation for the ‘doubling’ in reporting from one quarter to another:
New National Whistleblowing Standards were launched on April 1 last year, which require boards to publish the number of cases, performance information, and an overview of each complaint. The health board said the higher volume of cases in the most recent quarter may be due to increased attention and awareness of procedures following the changes.
This is not responsible reporting in the public interest, as former quality broadsheets still claim to offer, but inferior quality scaremongering.
Do not buy this rag.