Monday, 1 June 2020

Nicola's Jingoistic Drivel

Nicola Sturgeon is clutching at straws with her defence of the Scottish Government's track record on Covid-19 by drawing meaningless comparisons with England.

I'm surprised at the first minister's reaction, I have to say, because she is following the 'lead' of her SNP colleague Doug Chapman, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, who made the same specious point back in April 2020.

If you ask me, it's much more important to get to the bottom of why Coronavirus death rates are so high in Scotland compared to other countries around the world - in Greece, Slovakia, America or Iran, for example. 

Instead of proclaiming that things are just 'tickety boo', so long as Scotland manages to nudge even marginally ahead of England.

See posts below dated 14/05/20 and 18/04/20 along with a link to today's Scottish Sun.


Questions for the First Minister and Prime Minister (14/05/20)

I haven't heard anyone ask the First Minister or the Prime Minister to explain the alarming differences in COVID-19 fatality rates around the world, so here goes.

Why are the fatality rates from COVID-19 in Scotland and the UK so much higher than in other comparable countries around the world?

Now a quick visit to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine throws up some very interesting figures which suggest that, in relative terms, both Scotland and the UK as a whole are doing poorly in the battle to prevent people from dying from COVID-19 (see post below dated 20 April 2020).

See for yourself via the link below, but the evidence  shows that a wide range of countries (some larger others smaller) put Scotland and the UK to shame when it comes to saving the lives of citizens infected with  Coronavirus.

Here are just a few examples: Greece, Slovakia, America and Iran.

Johns Hopkins:


Doug's Jingoistic Drivel (18/04/20)

I don't know the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, Douglas Chapman, but I have to say he sounds like a complete buffoon having read his appalling tweet about the comparative Coronavirus death rates between  Scotland and England.

According to the latest statistics Scotland has a higher fatality rate than Northern Ireland, for example, and our record does not compare too well with other comparable countries around the world.

But that's a matter for sober reflection at the appropriate time - it's certainly not a cause for jingoistic celebration or condemnation at the expense of our friends and neighbours, at home or abroad.

And to think we pay this chap tens of thousands of pounds a year to spout this kind of drivel at such a difficult and trying time for so many people.


Coronavirus in Scotland: SNP MP criticised over 'tasteless' Twitter post

By Alistair Grant - The Herald

AN SNP politician has been accused of making "tasteless" remarks about the coronavirus death rate in Scotland and England.

Douglas Chapman questioned whether Scotland's "vastly superior A&E performance" or its "unique coronavirus assessment centres" were the reason for its lower death rate.

The Dunfermline and West Fife MP wrote on Twitter: "Recorded deaths from #Covid in England are double the rate of what they are in Scotland.

"It’s reasonable to ask WHY? Is it NHS Scotland’s vastly superior A&E performance OR is it Scotland’s 50 unique coronavirus assessment centres keeping infected patients away from GP surgeries?"

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on Mr Champman to withdraw the comment.

He said: "Douglas Chapman's dubious analysis of Covid-19 death rates is tasteless.

"It is certainly not in the spirit of partnership with the rest of the UK that the First Minister has adopted. 

"I am sure she will be embarrassed and uneasy that one of her Members of Parliament has acted in this way.

"The families who have lost loved ones and the health care workers risking their lives everyday on the front line want all our politicians to work together to help them through this crisis.

"Douglas Chapman should withdraw his remark and turn his attention to more worthy activities.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Mr Chapman should delete his pathetic, gloating tweet and apologise to all the families who have lost loved ones and our NHS professionals working flat out during the coronavirus outbreak.”

It is thought population density partly explains the higher death rate in England.

Coronavirus Scotland: A further 600 Scots may have died in care homes from Covid-19

By Chris Musson and Christine Lavelle - Scottish Sun

AN extra 600 Scots may have died from coronavirus in care homes, it’s emerged.

New figures show 2,350 “excess deaths” in the facilities since March 23 — but only 1,749 were logged as Covid-related.

It's feared there have been more care home deaths than official figures

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of hypocrisy for suggesting England is under-counting Covid-19 deaths in care homes — as stats suggest the same could be happening here.

The row erupted after the First Minister claimed up to twice as many residents may have died from the deadly bug down south than are recorded in official figures.

But her explanation for Scotland having a higher rate of such fatalities came as it emerged our tally may have not included a further 600 elderly victims.

Jeane Freeman says Scots who gather for lockdown parties 'put lives at risk'

And Labour MP Ian Murray hit out: “It is hypocritical for her to suggest English care home deaths have been under-reported when professionals have raised similar questions here in Scotland.

“It doesn’t provide comfort to thousands of mourning families.

“The death rate in Scots care homes is one of the world’s highest. That is partly due to elderly hospital patients being discharged into them without testing.

“The Scottish Government needs to take responsibility for its own catastrophic failings.”

Nicola Sturgeon suggested England has under-counted death toll

Records to date show 46 per cent of all Scots deaths linked to the bug have occurred in care homes — compared to only 28 per cent in England and Wales.

But when quizzed on the issue on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s often put to me the death rates, for want of a better expression, in care homes in Scotland is higher than England. I just don’t believe that is the case.

“Excess deaths in Scotland overall, but also in care homes, are lower than in England. But more of them in care homes have been attributed to Covid than is the case in England.

“Slightly more than 70 per cent of excess deaths in Scotland are attributed to Covid, whereas for some reason it is less than 50 per cent in England.”

The First Minister added: “In Scotland, if you die of a stroke but you also happen to have the virus you will be included in the deaths from Covid.

“It’s not for me to explain England’s figure but I think there is, at least on the face of it, a question of under-reporting.”

National Records of Scotland stats show 1,749 Covid-related deaths registered in our care homes up to May 24.

But since the country’s first virus fatality, in the week starting March 23, the residences have had 2,350 “excess deaths” — losses above the average for the same period in the previous five years.

Ian Murray has hit out at Nicola Sturgeon over death toll figures

It means an additional 601 perished over and above those registered as coronavirus victims.

Records show weekly deaths were below the average in early March but by the month’s end the total was 191 above it. Yet only 49 were officially linked to Covid-19. A week later the “excess” figure leapt to 349. Of those, 189 were registered as bug-related while 160 were not.

Recorded deaths in Scots care homes continued to be above the five-yearly average until the week beginning May 18.

But by then the numbers not officially linked to coronavirus had reached 601.

Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld claimed a lack of routine testing in care homes at the start of the pandemic meant the infection could have played a part in a number of the excess deaths.

She said: “There were more in the early weeks of the outbreak.

“That could be explained, of course, by the fact they are very old people dying from a range of causes, such as dementia.

“But they won’t necessarily have known whether those people had Covid or not because they would not necessarily have been tested.

“The numbers of ‘excess deaths’ that are not linked to coronavirus reduce a lot as the weeks go by. So some of this is going to be a function of testing.”

Prof Bauld, of Edinburgh University, also said it was “plausible” some of the deaths could be indirectly linked to the virus due to people not seeking medical help for other illnesses.

Professor Bauld says it's possible more deaths are linked to virus

Another factor could be “shifting patterns of care” due to higher staff absences and lower levels of family involvement in residents’ wellbeing.

And she said the official figures do not count care home residents who were admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 and died there.

The professor admitted it was “possible” Scotland’s care home death rate had been “under-played”.

She added: “Italy and Spain have also seen deaths above what they would have expected.”

The First Minister previously highlighted a London School of Economics study which said the Covid-19 toll in English and Welsh care homes may be double the official figure.

But it was later claimed the figures weren’t directly comparable. Today Health Secretary Jeane Freeman insisted she was “confident” the weekly NRS statistics were “accurate and not in any sense under-reported at all”.

At the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, she said: “National Records of Scotland, which is an independent organisation that works to very high professional standards.

“It publishes all confirmed Covid-19 deaths or where it is on the death certificate. It also sets out the location of those and additional information on excess deaths.”

NRS said its data is more up to date than stats published down south, which have an 11-day lag. But it added the figures are produced using the “same definition”.