As the UK is coming out of lockdown, so too are we – my wife and I. Only slightly – I want to make sure that all the cards are stacked in my favour before resuming my old life.
With that in mind, we had a garden-guest around last week, a friend of my wife. I can’t remember how we got there but the conversation somehow got to post-lockdown behaviour. I said I’d be far more comfortable coming out of the house if I knew there were no cases in our local hospital.
Okay, if there are no cases it does not necessarily mean we are [i.e. the vicinity is] COVID-free, but if we did have enough COVID cases, I’m sure some of them would end up in the hospital, and counted in the statistics.
It so happens that the husband of this friend works up at the hospital. Ah, the friend says, Rob gets an email every day, telling him exactly how many current COVID cases there are. My response was simply that this kind of information should be in the public domain.
These last few days, therefore, I have spent time poking about on the web, to see if this information is, indeed, available. I couldn’t find it, so I ended up asking the hospital themselves whether they publish numbers.
This morning I received a reply. No, the numbers aren’t published because it might breach patient confidentiality.
Now, I wasn’t asking for names and addresses, just aggregate numbers. So I’m not sure how that could breach anyone’s confidentiality.
My next step? Well, the UK has a Freedom of Information law, and hospitals are public bodies, so I think my likely way forward is to put in one of these requests when I have some time. That is a pain, though, not to mention that the law gives them a month or two to respond to this request. Most likely they will sit on it until, hopefully, the pandemic is over, when this information is useful now.
I can’t help thinking it is a weird state of affairs. All around the world, people are looking for snippets of information to help them make pretty fundamental stop/go decisions, and our public health services are actively witholding this information.