Update #3 – Am I being Unreasonable?

Hot on the heels of my earlier update, I was looking to find the info from other sources. I want to share this link far and wide:


This only has information for England, I’m afraid. But:

  • The page displays a map. The map allows you to zoom in and out, and move around. A bit like Google.
  • You can also type in your post code. It needs to be the full postcode. AB1 2CD. That will take you to your location on the map.
  • In the top-left corner, there is also an icon, “go to my current location”, if your device supports it.
  • Left-click on the map. A little box pops up.
  • The box contains the location’s MSOA. I had no idea what that is. Middle Super Output Area, apparently. Some kind on unitary authority which I have never heard of, in all my 50-odd years. Looks like it is roughly equivalent to the “wards” we have at election time. So quite detailed. My MSOA covers mine and the next village, better focussed that I thought I could achieve.
  • The other thing this box tells you is the number of confirmed cases this last week. Exactly what I wanted to know. They update the map daily, and so “the last week” just rolls and rolls.

I guess the first thing I need to do is to follow this map, and see whether it agrees with the numbers I trust. The source is the UK Government, same source as my other info, so I’m hopeful. At the same time, I’m aware that the entire UK had 1,000 new cases yesterday. That’s a lot of cases.

If the map is good, however, the prognosis looks good outside of London and Birmingham – our biggest cities. My little area is showing zero cases this last week. Most areas are showing zero.

My main aim of this was to find local data, and I believe I have found that now. Although the hospital have been no help whatever, I’m just gonna drop the FoI request. They could have saved me a lot of time by pointing me here, but I have the result I was looking for.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge (13 August 2020)

I’m passionate about politics, but when it comes to political parties, I’m despondent. I’m disappointed at the absence of a sense of humanity and struggle to not become a cynic.

F. Murray Abraham

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), despondent.

Update #2: Am I Being Unreasonable?

I’m aware this is becoming a chain, so I’ll try to keep this short. No responses in six weeks, then two within a day!

As a very brief recap, I have asked for information such as the number of COVID tests, number of positives, performed by my local hospital. They will not disclose these numbers.

The first response, Tuesday afternoon, I posted about below. I replied immediately (words to the effect) that I did not believe that they did not keep numbers. Partly, this reply was for legal reasons – the FoI Law here requires that my next step was to complain to the hospital itself about the decision, and to ask them to reconsider.

To my surprise, I received another message first thing Wednesday morning. It seemed they did have the information I was looking for (of course they did), but they hinted they had a problem with the timeline that I specified.

I had requested regular updates, nominally weekly, starting asap, until our government declares an end to the pandemic in the UK. Other agencies now release data weekly, so I didn’t think this was unreasonable.

I rather think that they were expecting firm start and end dates, you know, give me the data between 1st August and 31st August. But how can I specify a firm date? How do I know when this will end? At the very end of their response, they seemed to acknowledge that I was requesting a commitment to publish ongoing information, and I can’t help thinking that this is their problem.

So Wednesday morning I fired off a non-legal message. I just wanted to establish whether they would be prepared to release any information as a one-off. To be clear on whether their problem was actually in the ongoing updates of the numbers. I offered to work with them.

I am awaiting their response. It’s entirely likely I will not get one, but I have to give them the chance to respond.

Next Steps

I’ll approach the information agency. I’ve jumped through all the necessary hoops now, so can approach them directly. They say they can adjudicate, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they had no teeth.

I have to be prepared, though, for the FoI agency to side with the hospital. The act seems to be aimed at publication of one-off information, whereas I’m looking for regular updates.

The other option is that I could be a real pain in the ass, and submit a bunch of fresh requests, one per week. It seems daft to submit a cluster of these things, where just one should do, but these things are only emails, after all.

This is so much harder than it needs to be.

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