Covid Scotland: New Test and Protect figures better for accountability after concerns stats were 'misleading'

Figures published by Public Health Scotland (PHS) on the performance of Test and Protect are now giving a “clearer picture” after concerns 50,000 missing ‘incomplete’ cases were not included in official statistics.

Scottish Labour had reported the publication of Test and Protect figures to the statistics authority after a report from the Scottish Sun that stated official figures did not include “failed” contact tracing attempts.

This included more than 50,000 cases in the past year – around 10 per cent of all Test and Protect cases – where contact tracers were unable to reach positive cases by phone.

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Test and Protect figures were described as misleading by Scottish Labour

This had a knock-on effect on the figures used to determine whether the system was meeting the international standard of the World Health Organisation in regards to the target of 80 per cent of cases having close contacts traced within 72 hours of a confirmed case.

In a letter from Ed Humpherson, the Office for Statistics Regulation director general for regulation, the authority said the new way of reported cases had improved transparency.

This is an implicit criticism of the previous method used by Public Health Scotland.

Mr Humpherson wrote: “We have seen the recently updated publication, which I know your team was working on prior to the concerns being drawn to my attention, and consider it to be much clearer in its treatment of incomplete cases.

"PHS now defines an incomplete case and sets out different reasons a case is classed as incomplete, including providing a table of number of incomplete cases by reason. The tables now separate complete and incomplete cases, so it is easy for users to distinguish between the two.

“Overall, the changes made give users a clearer picture of how the Test and Protect system is performing and better enable them to continue to hold the Scottish Government to account.”

Reacting to the letter, Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “It’s clear that the SNP have been fudging the figures for most of the pandemic.

“It shouldn’t take journalists digging around to force the government to stop publishing dodgy data.

“At every turn the SNP have had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards transparency – and they’re still falling short.

“The SNP need to spend less time spinning their failures and more time fixing them.”

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