‘NHS Compensation Claims in England four times higher than in Scotland!’ or Scotsman journalist fails professional test for lumping statistics and lack of context in report on NHS Scotland compensation


(c) cakart.in

According to the Scotsman today:

‘NHS Scotland pays £193m in compensation over five years. Medical negligence payments paid out annually by NHS Scotland have risen four-fold in the past decade, new figures have revealed. In 2016-17, £38.3 million was paid out – up from £9.4m in 2006-07. NHS Scotland has paid a total of £192.9m in medical negligence claims to patients over the five years between 2012-17.’


First, lumping together the figures for five years to get a bigger number for your headline is cheating. Only the annual figure is meaningful and only the increase from one year to the next tells us anything useful.

Now I know that the Scotsman’s new research officer, ‘Brains’ Monteith, has told them they don’t need contextual comparisons anymore now that he has labelled it ‘whitabootery’. However, the research council has rejected his application for it to be recognised as a proper adult concept and the nearest professor of journalism I could find says context is still very important and required for even a bare pass in first year, in semester 1, in week 1, on day 1, before lunchtime.

So, from the FT, see this on compensation claims in the ENHS (English, not Estonian!) in the same year:

‘The number of successful clinical negligence claims against the National Health Service has more than doubled in the past decade, leaving a bill that may be having an impact on the quality of care. The National Audit Office says that over the past decade, spending on the clinical negligence scheme for NHS trusts has quadrupled from £400m in 2006-07 to £1.6bn in 2016-17.’


Now, let me think is £1.6 billion much more than £39.3 million when they have a much bigger population? I know let’s do a cost ratio per head of population. What, you don’t have a mathematics pass? Oh, alright I’ll do it for you.

NHS Scotland compensation plans are running at £38 300 000 per year divided by 5 300 000 folk, or:

£7.22p per head of population.

NHS England compensation plans are running at £1 600 000 000 per year divided by 53 000 000 people, or:

£30.18p per head of population.

We must be doing something better.


15 thoughts on “‘NHS Compensation Claims in England four times higher than in Scotland!’ or Scotsman journalist fails professional test for lumping statistics and lack of context in report on NHS Scotland compensation

  1. William Henderson January 16, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    The lesson is clear. If anyone wants to have a successful career as an ‘Ambulance Chaser’ lawyer they must move south.

    I’m not complaining!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bryan Weir January 16, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    The rest of the Unionist media are now jumping on this one. BBC Reporting Scotland tonight?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Marlene Halliday January 16, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    And if you work out the ratio of compensation claims per person England: Scotland, it has hardly changed at all from 2006 to 2016 : 4.2 times as much paid out per English person in 2006 compared to 4 times as much in 2016. I googled to find population figures so my numbers are slightly different from yours. Fortunately I noticed that my google query “what was the population of England in 2016” had returned me links for the population of UK as a whole!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ludo Thierry January 16, 2018 / 6:14 pm

    Not in your league John but am posting just as seem to add weight to your general argument today. I noted a small article regarding a big reduction (monetary value) in Scottish (major) fraud figures on the Scottish legal website. It didn’t contain much comparitive info but I have pulled out and edited what I could (comparing Scotland/UK-wide) and we do seem to show considerably lower numbers than our population share would indicate in terms of numbers of cases, average monetary value per case – and a staggeringly tiny fraction of the overall UK total monetary value ie £16.2M from UK total of £2.11B): see below:

    The value of fraud in Scotland dropped 76.8 per cent in 2017 to £16.2 million (Note: 2016 was a 4 year high figure of £69.9M) – according to new research published by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP.

    BDO’s FraudTrack report, which examines fraud cases over £50,000 in the UK, reveals that despite the dramatic decrease in the total value of fraud in Scotland in 2017, the number of reported cases increased to 50, up from 36 in 2016. The highest number of fraud cases were committed in London & the South East (176 in 2017) while Scotland recorded the fourth highest number of frauds in the UK. (UK total = 577 cases)

    UK-wide, the total value and volume of reported fraud in 2017 hit a 15-year high (to £2.11bn, and 577 cases). UK- wide, the average value of each fraud = £3.66m. (by my arithmetic the Scottish ‘average’ = £324,000).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alasdair Macdonald January 16, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    Some years ago, when Jack McConnell was the SG Secretary for Education and touring various Council areas. He quoted figures on education expenditure – big figures – which I pointed out were cumulative figures. The then Chancellor, Gordon Brown had recently announced, these figures and, various opposition MPs and some real journalists had pointed out they were cumulative. I asked Mr McConnell if this was not deliberately misleading because he had quoted these figures in response to a question about a specific year’s expenditure, implying, that the large figures were the actual spend for that specific year. He laughed and said it was the job of politicians to present things in the best possible light. He had not lied, he had not told the whole story. If we go to court we have to take the oath affirming we will tell the truth, the WHOLE truth….

    I think what really annoyed me was that he was wholly unembarrassed and, indeed, considered it quite clever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam January 16, 2018 / 9:56 pm

      Alisdair, when Jack McConnell was FM, it was the Scottish Executive.


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 16, 2018 / 10:15 pm

        Sorry! I forgot. It was a time when they had to make sure these Jocks did not get too full of themselves.

        Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      Thanks A, not surprised he wasn’t embarrassed. When you remember him wearing that awful kilt back to front, he was unphased.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Donald McGregor January 16, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    I see the BBC website have eschewed this story to concentrate on A&E waiting times again. Well done to all who have jumped on this ‘story’. I suspect we will need to pack in work and devote our time to debunking, to keep these media low-life’s in order!

    Somewhere in here though was mentioned a difference in how England and Scotland NHS measure the 4 hr waiting times. Is that just a wrong memory I have?

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 January 17, 2018 / 9:15 am

      There were comments but I looked at the descriptions and couldn’t find a clear difference. If anyone can convince me I’d love to be so.


      • Donald McGregor January 17, 2018 / 2:21 pm

        My memory says the english 4 hrs starts from when seen by a doctor, rather than from when entering the department. I’ll have to research.


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