THE origins of the phrase ‘there are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies, and statistics’ is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but the message still holds just as true today as when it was popularised by Mark Twain.

So just how much credence do we give to the latest GP Patient Survey results - which measures how well your GP surgery has performed over the past year as voted for by you, the patients?

I’m truly happy for those patients who are served by those surgeries at the top of the list.

Take a bow Fairfield Surgery, with a 97 per cent satisfaction rating and Manchester Road Surgery (96 per cent) – but what about those at the bottom of the list?

There is a depressing familiarity at seeing Penketh Health Centre in last place…again.

It doesn’t take much research to see the consistency in this unfortunate placing.

The 2018 results had the Penketh surgery as the 27th worst (out of 28) with a patient satisfaction rating of 69 per cent.

Surely that would have been a call to action, a prompt to make things better,

So on to the 2019 survey and Penketh Health Centre actually dropped to last place, 26th out of 26 surgeries and an eight-point drop in patient satisfaction down to 61 per cent.

So what is the official opinion on those figures?

When last year’s results were published, Dr Sangeetha Steevart, GP and governing body lead for primary care at NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have plans in place already for the areas which the survey rated us less favourably, and we will continue to work with our practices and patient representatives to ensure that we continue to learn, develop and improve.”

I have no doubt that across the town the level of primary care is good, but it’s this paragraph that piqued my attention.

I was glad to hear there are plans to ‘learn, develop and improve’.

How did that work out, I wonder?

That brings us neatly to this year’s winners of the ‘wooden spoon’.

Sadly, and I really mean that, Penketh Health Centre was placed 19th out of 19 surgeries by its patients.

More disturbingly, its satisfaction rating had fallen again to just 52 per cent.

So much for learning, developing and improving it would appear.

I have personal experience of Penketh Health Centre and think I have some insight into why it consistently figures towards the bottom of the patient satisfaction survey.

Actually being able to book an appointment is such an labyrinthine, Kafkaesque process that it’s no wonder patients aren’t satisfied and give consistently low marks.

Interestingly, once you crack the secret code and actually get in to see a health professional the practice scores fairly well.

Let’s just hope this time Dr Steevart’s aspirations actually come to fruition.

While we’re on the subject of health, I am staggered at what appears to be something of a culture war developing over the use of face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve seen stories of people being verbally abused for wearing face masks in public and people putting them on to get on public transport and then taking them off once they’re on the train.

To say the least, the message from the Prime Minister and his pals is muddled (no change there then).

This is what the World Health Organization has to say: "The use of masks is part of a comprehensive package of the prevention and control measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including Covid-19.

"Masks can be used either for protection of healthy persons (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for source control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission).

"Whether or not masks are used, compliance with hand hygiene, physical distancing and other infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of Covid-19.”

Seems pretty clear to me.

Pity it doesn’t appear to be clear to our government which is, yet again, dithering and delaying.

Perhaps ‘herd immunity’ was the policy in England all along.