The BBC has responded to claims that Newsnight graphs showing the number of Covid hospital patients in each nation in the UK were misleading.

Social media users were quick to point out that a graph featured on the show on January 8th featured different scales - with England’s Y axis going up to 30,000 and Scotland’s peaking at 1600. The graph for Wales was capped at 2500 and Northern Ireland, 700.

The graphs appeared to show that Scotland had a higher number of patients in hospital with Covid and a larger spike, sparking significant debate on social media. 

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Despite this appearance, comparisons were not made between each nation but rather journalist Lewis Goodall discussed and addressed each graph in turn. 

Responding to the claims that from a social media user that the graphs were misleading, BBC Newsnight Policy Editor Lewis Goodall tweeted: “I that’s fair comment.” 

He then explained that he “wanted to present the full picture in the 4 nations as I’m conscious that too often it’s just done on UK figures.” adding “In the full clip I explain the point is to compare between peaks within nations rather than between but can understand how confusion might arise”


During his broadcast, he said: “England, 49% more than the English April peak – you can see way above there. Scotland, they’re the only ones just under their April peak but only by, as you can see, a couple of per cent.”

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Responding on the thread, the SNP’s head of broadcast media also chimed in to outline the confusion but defend the report overall writing: “Lewis Goodall’s reporting of Scotland is as fair and as strong as anyone on the BBC network but I think the axis was too small and on-screen too quick so looks skewed on TV without closer look. Hospitalisation numbers frighteningly high in each of the four nations in any case.”

An SNP source told our pro-independence sister paper, The National: “Fair play to Lewis Goodall – accepting this BBC Newsnight graphic wasn’t perfect.

“BBC bosses and the BBC Executive Complaints Unit could learn from this approach, instead of their standard knee-jerk reaction to dismiss and brush concerns and complaints under the carpet.”

The BBC has confirmed that it will not be commenting further on the matter. 

According to the latest figures, Scotland has recorded 93 deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,865 new cases in the past 24 hours. 

The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 4,965.

A total of 147,889 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.