January 12, 2021 12.40 pm This story is over 36 months old

Lincolnshire health boss deplores “nonsensical” secrecy of vaccine data

Even directors of public health don’t know local figures

New rapid COVID-19 testing sites in Lincoln and Boston are hoping to examine more than 50,000 asymptomatic people over the coming weeks.

The county’s health bosses, however, are focused on trying to draw the NHS into revealing local vaccination figures, criticising a “nonsensical” refusal to pass the data down.

More than 2.4million people nationally have received their first dose of vaccination so far, according to the government’s latest data.

However, health bosses leading the response to COVID-19 in Lincolnshire still do not have local data, nor are they able to confirm where the next vaccination centres will be.

Professor Derek Ward said the situation was similar to one last year where the Department for Health and Social Care refused for a long time to give out testing numbers, leaving local officials scrambling for information.

He said he had been asking and asking and asking, adding it was not a criticism of local NHS bosses, who he said would “love to share the data”.

“It’s just they have been told they are not allowed to by NHS England nationally… [the] diktat is that they are not allowed to share the data, including with the Director of Public Health which is nonsensical. It’s absolutely nonsensical.

“We have pushed back very, very strongly as directors of public health and had lots of conversations over the weekend, so I’m hoping the position will change.”

A map showing an s-shaped gap stretching down the middle of Lincolnshire where vaccine centres are yet to touch. | Image: NHS England

Professor Ward has been supported by councillors across Lincolnshire desperate to find out when their areas will receive vaccine centres, including Lord Gary Porter, leader of South Holland District Council.

Elsewhere, new rapid testing centres in Lincoln and Boston could test more than 50,000 people.

Professor Ward said the current site at the LNER stadium had capacity for around 7,000 over the next couple of weeks, with another 7,000 carried out after it moves to Monks Road.

The location of two further sites in Boston remains unconfirmed, but it is hoped their capacity will cater to more than 32,000 working age people.

The first day of rapid testing on Monday in Lincoln saw 60 people pass through the doors, with one asymptomatic COVID-positive patient identified and isolated.

Rapid coronavirus testing began at Lincoln City’s LNER Stadium on Monday, January 11, 2021. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Professor Ward said he hoped a few dozen more would be revealed over the next six weeks, helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

He said the testing sites were “another tool”  and if someone has symptoms they should isolate and get a COVID-19 test through the normal channels such as the Lincolnshire Showground, the University of Lincoln testing site or any of the others in Grantham, Gainsborough and Boston.

“If you get a positive, then it’s a red card you need to make sure you isolate — we’ll get you a complimentary test just to make sure.

“But if you get a negative doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t got it because they’re not perfect, but at least it gives you some indication — you’ve still got to stick by the rules.”