Friday, May 14, 2021

Massaging child poverty indicators


This is a graph with which I am familiar. If anything there is an upward trend in 'all cause' child hospitalisations.

So I was somewhat surprised yesterday to hear the good news from the PM's department Child Poverty Related Indicators Report that 'potentially avoidable hospitalisations' (PAH) are trending down.

"Over the five years to 2019/20, rates of potentially avoidable hospitalisations have been decreasing."


So I went looking for the detail that might explain the seeming contradiction (beyond the fact that from March 2020 Covid meant people didn't go to hospital.) Here's the blurb on PAH:

 Potentially avoidable hospitalisations

The Ministry of Health does not routinely collect data on potentially avoidable hospitalisations. In order to present data for this indicator, the Ministry of Health used the National Minimum Dataset (Hospital Inpatient Events) and developed a specific methodology based on analysis from academic literature and discussions with experts. The methodology report has been published by the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health. Indicator of potentially avoidable hospitalisations for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy: A brief report on methodology. Wellington: Ministry of Health. 2020).

A "specific methodology" designed solely for the purposes of creating a new indicator which...

... is required to help the government: 

-better understand the social determinants of child and youth health

-monitor the collective efforts of the health sector and other sectors on improving the health status of this population subgroup.

Forgive my cynicism but could one include in that list 'to help the government look good?'

What we have is actual hospitalisations rising while 'potentially avoidable hospitalisations' are falling.

Doesn't that mean 'potentially unavoidable hospitalisations' are increasing?

Is that good news? Here's the headline:

'More Children Being Unavoidably Hospitalised'

Talk about spin.

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