Intended for healthcare professionals


The statistical sins of Jeremy Hunt

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 26 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6358
  1. David Craven, Royal Society research fellow
  1. 1University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. cravenda{at}

Four things the health secretary needs to get right

The health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, has been criticised recently over his handling of statistics. Although it can be easy to make statistical errors, his handling of the so called “weekend effect” and new contract for junior doctors has seen some particularly egregious examples.

Weekend mortality—In October Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of The BMJ, wrote to Hunt to pull him up on his conflation of the concepts of correlation and causation and to try to persuade him to stop making this error.1 A study in The BMJ (doi:10.1136/bmj.h4596) had shown a correlation between admission to hospital at weekends and death rates. It found that 11 000 more …

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