I do like Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and liked to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. The idea is that we pick a “thing” (person, organisation) who “won” the week. Like today, I normally post with a heavy dose of irony. And now that Corona is not quite so dominant, I want to get back into the habit of publishing my weekly “winner” once again.
I’m sorry, but I am still sore about this, so I’m gonna rant about it again.
Like many of the rest of you, and millions of others around the world, I am staying home, thinking that I am not going to emerge back into the world until the odds are well-and-truly stacked in my favour. I’m looking at as many numbers as I can find in order to decide when it is safe to go out. Of course, I see things subjectively, but I think Ithat in doing this, it’s the responsible course of action.
The backdrop, in the UK, is that the numbers are slowly declining nationally, although there were still over 600 new cases (officially) yesterday, with 67 deaths. Despite the good news that the virus is going away, albeit slowly, there are still local flare-ups, as you might expect. The city of Leicester was re-locked-down last week through just such a flare up.
Now, we get numbers nationally on a daily basis. This has been true since the start of the epidemic. Same things measured each day, so we’ve been able to see how the virus (or how the NHS) is progressing.
We get some regional information, qualitative not quantitative, each week through the public health arm of the government, an agency called Public Health England. As you might imagine, this information is more vague, from report to report, the agency chooses what data to publish (and therefore to withhold).
I decided that the information released by the agency wasn’t specific enough. So I approached my local hospital, just for the raw numbers, the same numbers published each day by the government, but I wanted them on a local scale rather than nationally. I want to be able to see if a flare-up happens in my area.
Those national numbers must be compiled based on data from each of the hospitals in the UK in the first place. And at this point, I’ll let you into a secret. These numbers *are* known already, because the hospital publishes them internally, every day. I can know these numbers just by phoning a friend, but any member of the public should be in that same position. I shouldn’t be better-off just because I happen to know somebody.
So I approached the hospital, to ask for the data. They refused.
I say again, many people will be sitting at home, trying to make a responsible, informed decisions on whether to now leave their house or not. By refusing to place its knowledge in the public domain, the local (public, don’t forget) hospital is withholding information which might help these people make that decision.
You probably guessed by now, my award goes to Salisbury District Hospital, in the UK.
You know, you might also go back to the start of this post, and ask yourself how the authorities could possibly identify Leicester as a hotspot? You see? That localised data must exist already. It should be in the public domain.
One of the things they don’t realise is that, sitting there at home, people have the time to follow through with all this shit! So I filled out a formal Freedom of Information request last week, too. Now, they need to justify why they won’t disclose the numbers, and the law restricts then to one or two specific reasons. It’ll be strange if they use any of them, since I have requested exactly the same data published by our central government.
I don’t particularly want to have to be the guy who puts himself out over this, but somebody ought to. If that responsibility falls on me, so be it.