The ongoing task of bearing down on coronavirus in Bolton requires our officials to be provided with the right data by the government who have been continuing to let local councils down. At the same time that councils are expected to take responsibility for local outbreaks, they have gone for weeks with only a partial picture of what is happening in their area.
Local councils have been receiving only partial postcode data about Covid-19 infections which prevents them from precisely monitoring their local areas which could allow the virus to spread. Information has been provided by government about people who have tested positive for coronavirus and has included their postcodes, but not their names, DOB or workplace for example. This lack of detail matters as contact tracing involves time-consuming work up against the clock, which can’t be done effectively if staff don’t know which people in a particular area have tested positive.
Cllr Sue Haworth labour spokesperson on health says,
“At a Board meeting at the Council on the 15th July I called on Cllr Greenhalgh to relentlessly lobby his party government ministers for coronavirus data that is needed in Bolton. It was confirmed at the meeting that senior officers at Bolton Council were not yet receiving the patient identifiable information of the testing data needed to safely manage coronavirus in Bolton.”
“Local councils have been left hamstrung for too long in their job to control any outbreaks. It is clear that government ministers have been failing to adhere to their own policies for weeks by declining to hand over patient identifiable information about a notifiable disease, making it particularly hard for a council to have been doing the work that is expected of them.”
Over the weekend of the 18th and 19th July it was reported that the Health Secretary was to finally provide named patient testing data to public health directors, following a campaign from many local councils. Just days ago the required data was promised to councils by the Health Secretary.
However Cllr Haworth responded “This announcement was on the back of a gaffe by Matt Hancock MP on 14th July in Parliament when he told MPs that councils were getting all of the Covid-19 patient data, which they were not.”
“It is imperative that the Leader of the Council considers the issue of Covid-19 data an absolute priority for the council due to uncertainly remaining in what data week on week will arrive at the council and when. The Labour group rightly does not have confidence in government ministers on this matter.”