Take note of views of one in 50

First published in Letters

IT IS about the faulty methodology of the health board’s questionnaire which renders the result invalid – and makes it incumbent on them to reverse the SCBU policy.

We have read that Opinion Research Services gave more significance to 697 responses to 5,000 questionnaires posted randomly by Hywel Dda Health Board (less than one in 500 of the population) than 4,422 responses by people freely choosing to obtain one and fill it in – that included about one in 50 of the Pembrokeshire population, over ten times more.

This resulted in their confirming their wish to close Withybush SCBU, though the ‘open’ questionnaire favoured retaining it.

Many are unhappy with this interpretation – one in 500 being given more say than one in 50 – but there is an even more concerning point that in my opinion renders the ORS interpretation valueless – so the famous 697 responses should be ignored.

That is, how many people discarded or ignored the posted ‘household’ questionnaire for a variety of reasons, but later changed their mind and filled in the ‘open’ one, not realizing that their views were going to be given less weight as a result? ORS failed to ask this question in their ‘open’ version – so we will never know.

Let’s suppose there were about 200 – and there could easily have been many more who had this experience – then that would have been enough to produce a completely different result.

So Hywel Dda and ORS have failed to apply rigorous method to their ‘household’ questionnaire yet placed huge store by the result.

They should now be told to ignore it, take note of the views of one in 50 of the population, and modify their plan so as to preserve the Withybush SCBU.

Peter Milewski pembshealthconcern @gmail.com

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