If you were going on an expensive holiday to somewhere exotic, how would you chose where to go?
Would you knock on a door, in a street near you and ask the opinion of a complete stranger, regardless of whether or not, they had been there?
Or, might you find someone who had and ask them.
That’s why there are plenty of consumer travel web sites to help you in your decision making.
If you were new to the area and needed to find a GP, wouldn’t you go to the school gates and ask the Mums who they might recommend?
If you were planning to see a play, would you ask someone who had seen it, if it was any good or would you ask someone who had not.
I know this all sounds common-sense crying out the answers.
Go with me on this!
Here’s another question;
If you wanted to know the opinions of people about the NHS, do you think it might be a good idea to ask someone who had used it recently? I think you would.
But, not if you are the King’s Fund or the Nuff’s.
Their idea is to interview 3,879 people in England, Scotland and Wales who are somehow representative of us all.
Addresses are then selected by flipping a coin, or sticking a pin in a list and interviewers go and knock on the door.
If there is anyone in, they try and talk to anyone over 18, who will talk to them, about the NHS, regardless of whether they have used it recently, or not.
Narrative isn’t captured. Responses are chosen from a pre-selected set of cards.
The upshot is a sample size of 2,926 people who gave a view on the NHS from Glasgow to Glamorgan to Ramsgate.
Then the data is jiggled about, in the Think-Tank’s words, to;
‘… correct for the unequal probabilities of selection, and for biases caused by differential non-response. The weighted sample is calibrated to match the population in terms of age, sex. The margin of error in 2018 for the health care questions was around +/- 1.5 to 3.7 percentage points.’
Now, I dunno about you, perhaps you are a big brain-box person and are prepared to put your faith in the opinions of a handful of people, who may, or may not, have been anywhere near the NHS, to choose answers, off a card and have the results number-crunched by the same sort of people who can never get the results of an election right, and called the referendum all wrong.
Me, I’m stupid and I think this is bonkers, double bonkers.
As a result, yesterday, the airwaves were full of commentary and criticism about the sliding NHS, from people who’s opinions were probably, for all we know, based on a couple of front pages from the Daily Mail and a trip to the pharmacy at Tesco’s.
Big-cheese GP Helen Stokes-Lampard did the rounds of the early morning studios, defending the indefensible.
If her comms-team had read how this junk-survey had been compiled she would have done what I did; told the broadcasters it was rubbish, and had a lie-in.
In the name of sophistication we are expected to believe this fake-views survey is important. It is not.
It may be the gold standard for numerologists, psephologists and number crunchers but for most of us it, with a big dose of common-sense, looks ridiculous.
If you want to know what people think of the NHS, stand outside a thousand practices and ask. Loiter outside 50 hospitals and ask.
I confess I know nothing about polling and the science of gathering public opinion.
However, based on how the experts divine opinions about the NHS, from people who know next to nothing, makes me an expert.
Have a good weekend.
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Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.