Dear Mr Macdonald,


Further to my letter of 6th September 2018, I have now concluded my investigation into the data analysis and reporting from the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group (SICSAG) and Information Services Division (ISD), following an anonymous letter outlining a number of concerns.

I have undertaken my review with members of the SICSAG team (including statisticians and clinicians within ISD, and clinicians within SICSAG) and ISD’s Statistical Governance team, which oversees our compliance with the standards set out in the UK Code of Practice for Statistics.

The SICSAG report is not an official statistics publication but is produced, as with all ISD publications, in line with the principles set out in the Code of Practice.  ISD takes its compliance with the Code of Practice seriously and therefore it is important that we investigate the claims made in the letter.  I have also copied this response to the Office for Statistics Regulation, the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority, so that they can undertaken an independent review.

It is disappointing that the letter sent to me is anonymous as my preference would be to discuss the issues raised with the complainants directly.  Previous experience with other issues has shown that open dialogue between all parties can help build trust and understand the crux of the issues raised and prevent misunderstandings which can happen through written correspondence alone.  As noted in the letter to me, the complainants sent a similar anonymous letter to ISD and SICSAG last year.  ISD and SICSAG undertook a review at that time but due to the anonymous nature of the letter, it was not possible to respond directly last year.

Responding to this year’s letter via the Health & Sport Committee allows us the opportunity to address the points raised by the complainant.  That said, my preference would still be for a face to face meeting with all parties to further explore any ongoing issues.

The investigation included a review of all data analysed and reported in the letter, particularly relating to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (which the complainant has highlighted as an area of concern), a review of the analysis methodology used by SICSAG, a review of current SICSAG governance guidelines and a review of past annual reports commentary.   The results of the investigation are given in the appendix attached to this letter.  I have grouped the response around key themes raised by the complainant but please let me know if there are any areas which you feel have not been addressed or require additional clarity.  The response in relation to the statistical analysis undertaken is technical in nature and this will allow the separate review by the Office for Statistics Regulation to understand ISD’s approach and our reasons for adopting this methodology and our subsequent reporting of the results.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the complainants for their letter.  They are clearly passionate about this topic and it is important that their concerns are addressed and acknowledged.  ISD always welcome feedback as this provides us with valuable insight into our services and assists us with improving our outputs, and in the case of our audits, inform service improvement and therefore improvements to services for patients.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments. I would very much welcome the opportunity for all parties involved to discuss this with you and, if they were willing, the complainants.

Yours sincerely,

Scott Heald


Related Links:

Ed Humpherson to Lewis Macdonald MSP