Greater Manchester STILL has no idea how many people tested for Covid here – or the results


General practitioners, NHS trusts and public health still don’t know how many people in Greater Manchester are being tested for coronavirus, or the results of the tests, as they still can’t get the numbers from the national system . The problem of testing by commercial laboratories was first raised here publicly in mid-May, Andy Burnham describing the situation as a “data blockage”.

However, after weeks of complaints from local authorities, the information is still not being shared, although the government has repeatedly hinted that it is available to counsel via Public Health England.

Senior officials and politicians say here that they have “no idea” of the reason, although some argue that the data itself is not of sufficient quality.

Others believe that the problem lies in data protection rules.

The missing information means they can only analyze data from tests performed directly by NHS boards or trusts, which are processed in the Public Health England laboratories in Manchester Royal Infirmary and Royal Oldham.

No private sector test, known as the “pillar two” of the national program, can be incorporated into it to plan the next phase of the public health response, which means a key part of the picture – especially where the spread of the virus in the wider community – is missing.

A senior official called the cause of the missing data from the private labs a “mystery”: “They will not share it with us. I have no valid reason for this.

“The two test systems do not speak to each other. In the wider community, we literally have no idea how many people were tested. He seems to be entering a complete black hole. ”

General practitioners also do not know who of their patients has been tested.

“We are working completely blind,” said one. “You could treat a patient for one thing without knowing that he was tested for Covid or what the result was, because the patient might not tell you.

A coronavirus laboratory

“With anything else, the results will go back to the GP, but with that, he completely avoided this process. There is no coordinated approach. ”

Men. has repeatedly questioned the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the issue in recent weeks.

On May 14, he insisted that “we now have the opportunity to share data locally”, adding that the information had been “shared regularly with public health agencies for several weeks”.

However, directors of public health, who are based in local authorities, have still not received data.

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Approaching M.E.N. Speaking of the lingering problems on May 21, the ministry said it was “actively working on a solution to share anonymized data with our stakeholders”, including with the Local Government Association.

Last week, data still missing, DHSC told MEN: “All English test program data is shared with Public Health England, which shares relevant data with their local working health protection teams with local councils and directors. of public health. ”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a “five pillar” testing program on April 2. The second pillar, the commercial branch, still does not share its data with local health organizations.

Asked again this week about the data – still unavailable to general practitioners, public health directors or other leaders at the local level – he noted that PHE ‘now reports positive tests when they have data sufficient, for example the NHS ‘numbers, in its weekly dashboard.

The department “is currently actively developing a digital solution to allow local authorities and public health managers to access more data from the national testing program to support local decision-making,” he added.

PHE did not respond to M.E.N’s latest request for comment, but a senior source in Greater Manchester said she did not think the problem was there, as the agency was also struggling to get the results.

It is also a legal issue, they added, since Covid is a “reportable disease” that must be legally declared to government authorities.

The missing data relate to all tests carried out in private centers, such as those at Manchester Airport, Etihad and many others scattered around Greater Manchester, which are sent to external “mega-laboratories” in places like Alderley Park in Cheshire.

A local health official said today they were told they “could” get the data next week, “even if I believe it when I see it.”

A senior official agreed, “I can’t hold my breath. “


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