Saturday, 25 May 2013

Hiding isn't going to help you

         WE REVEAL



I was complaining the other day, about how little information Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation trust give us; this Freedom of Information request dealt with on 23rd November 2012 is a good example.

Any member of the public can put in these requests, as do journalists. The NHS, like any public body is ours – you’d think they would want to give helpful answers? No chance.

Here are someone’s questions about A and E waiting times – a matter of public interest, surely;

1.Please can you tell me on how many occasions patients in your A&E department waited 24 hours or longer for treatment in 2012?

2.How many patients have had to wait longer than 12 hours?

3.How many patients have had to wait longer than 18 hours?

4.Please also tell me the longest recorded time a patient waited for treatment in A&E in 2012?

5.Please can you tell me how many delayed discharges have lasted longer than 28 days in 2012?

6.Please can you tell me the longest time in 2012 a patient’s discharge has been delayed for?

7.With reference to question 6, can you give the reason why the patient’s discharge has been delayed?



Completion Date 29/01/2013

 Details of the Response


2.* patients awaited treatment in A & E over 12 hours.


4. 846 mins

5.* patients had a delay of longer than 28 days in 2012

6.The longest of these had a delay of 53 days

7.The reason was “unusually long delay due to dispute by Surrey PCT on who should fund healthcare needs. Outcome was placement without prejudice by Surrey PCT for agreement on funding to be made in the community between Hounslow and Surrey PCT”


* Ashford & St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust can confirm that it holds the information you have requested. However, the Trust believes that this information is exempt under section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) as due to the low numbers involved it is possible that individuals may be identified.


To start with, 846 minutes are just over 14 hours, quite a long time to wait for treatment.

Then the ‘Trust’ refused to answer how many poor souls had to wait longer than 12 hours for their treatment, on the basis that there were so few they could have been identified from the answer.

How could anyone be identified? – only that person knows how long they waited.  What about the one patient who waited for 846 long minutes – they didn’t worry about identifying him or her, did they? It’s obviously more than one, otherwise it would be only be Mr or Ms 846 in the ‘longer than 12 hours section’.

If they had been good statistics, the PR department would have been issuing press releases like confetti.

This kind of information isn’t just what the public needs to know. It’s essential for the Board of Governors as well as for the staff at A and E to know this stuff.

If I was a Doctor or a manager and someone had waited 14 hours for treatment, I’d want everybody to know, pdq, to stop it happening again.

Or perhaps no one really cares, unless there is bad publicity.

Well, in my Blog, all publicity is good publicity.



Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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