Estimate for number of people tested for COVID-19 daily since 23rd May

T Sanderson made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health and Social Care

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The request was refused by Department of Health and Social Care.

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

Please provide your best available estimate for the number of people tested each day for COVID-19 since you stopped providing these figures on 23rd of May. I am aware that there may be some uncertainty in these figures, but it is important that the public see the best estimates you have available.

Best regards,

T Sanderson

Department of Health and Social Care

This is an acknowledgement - please do not reply to this email.

Thank you for contacting the Department of Health and Social Care. 

We are currently experiencing high volumes of enquiries and we are
focusing our resources on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

The answers to many questions, including the latest information on
COVID-19, can be found on [1]GOV.UK, the [2]Department of Health and
Social Care website or by visiting the [3]NHS website. We may not respond
to you if the answer to your enquiry can be found on either of these
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18 working days, or 20 working days if your query is a Freedom of
Information request or complaint.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please
visit [4]111.nhs.uk or telephone your GP surgery immediately for further
advice. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital directly.

If your organisation can offer support to help with the response to
coronavirus, including the supply of personal protective equipment, the
Government has set up an [5]online hub to compile and respond to all
offers. 

If you are clinician looking to support the NHS, please visit the [6]NHS
Professionals website for further information. 

If you are a clinician who has retired within the last 6 years and would
like more information on how to apply for the temporary register, please
visit the [7]NHS England website for further information. 

If you are a student looking to join the NHS, please visit the HEE website
for detailed guidance for [8]nurses and [9]doctors respectively. 

If you are seeking to offer your time to/volunteer for the NHS, please
visit [10]this website for more information.

The Department of Health and Social Care does not process complaints about
the NHS or social services. If you wish to make a complaint about a
healthcare professional, an NHS organisation or a social care provider,
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You can find out more about the Department’s commitments from our Personal
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References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
3. https://www.nhs.uk/
4. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
5. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-f...
6. https://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/
7. http://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/re...
8. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/news-blogs-events...
9. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/news-blogs-events...
10. https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs/
11. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

Thank you for acknowledging receipt of the request. I notice you have invoked Section 22 of the FOIA in response to a relatively similar query (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...), arguing that responding to a request now would be inequitable, by giving some people access to the data before others.

I wish to clarify that this concern would not apply to either of these requests, since they have been submitted through https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ and so all responses will immediately published online for the benefit of the entire general public, creating complete equity of access. Furthermore, given that you "recognise the public interest in this data being available to the public, and that disclosure leads to greater transparency in government", I would also be happy for the department to publish your response to me online if that expedites this release.

Yours faithfully,

T Sanderson

Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr/Ms Sanderson,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request (our ref: FOI-1232303) 

Yours sincerely,

 Jane Spencer 

Freedom of Information team
Department of Health and Social Care

show quoted sections

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Health and Social Care's handling of my FOI request 'Estimate for number of people tested for COVID-19 daily since 23rd May'.

I am pleased that you have indicated that this data will be published 'very shortly', but also disappointed that this data has been unavailable for more than a month during an epidemic in which every day lost in mounting an effective testing regime has dire consequences for public health and the economy.

As I noted, you rejected two similar queries also submitted through http://whatdotheyknow.com, on the disingenuous grounds that responding would create an inequity of data access (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d... , https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...). You have not invoked this argument in response to my request, presumably because I highlighted the fact that any data released in response to any of these queries would have been immediately available to all.

As you note, Section 22 is a qualified exemption, and you are required to assess as objectively as possible
whether the balance of public interest favours disclosing or withholding the information. You have noted that 'there is a strong public interest in information being made as freely available as possible', but you have not even attempted to provide a countervailing argument as to how responding to my request could harm the public interest. I am therefore requesting an internal review of this decision.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

T Sanderson

Department of Health and Social Care

This is an acknowledgement - please do not reply to this email.

Thank you for contacting the Department of Health and Social Care. 

We are currently experiencing high volumes of enquiries and we are
focusing our resources on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

The answers to many questions, including the latest information on
COVID-19, can be found on [1]GOV.UK, the [2]Department of Health and
Social Care website or by visiting the [3]NHS website. We may not respond
to you if the answer to your enquiry can be found on either of these
websites. Where a reply is appropriate, we aim to send a response within
18 working days, or 20 working days if your query is a Freedom of
Information request or complaint.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please
visit [4]111.nhs.uk or telephone your GP surgery immediately for further
advice. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital directly.

If your organisation can offer support to help with the response to
coronavirus, including the supply of personal protective equipment, the
Government has set up an [5]online hub to compile and respond to all
offers. 

If you are clinician looking to support the NHS, please visit the [6]NHS
Professionals website for further information. 

If you are a clinician who has retired within the last 6 years and would
like more information on how to apply for the temporary register, please
visit the [7]NHS England website for further information. 

If you are a student looking to join the NHS, please visit the HEE website
for detailed guidance for [8]nurses and [9]doctors respectively. 

If you are seeking to offer your time to/volunteer for the NHS, please
visit [10]this website for more information.

The Department of Health and Social Care does not process complaints about
the NHS or social services. If you wish to make a complaint about a
healthcare professional, an NHS organisation or a social care provider,
please visit the [11]Complaints Procedure page on GOV.UK.

You can find out more about the Department’s commitments from our Personal
Information
Charterhttps://www.gov.uk/government/organisati....

This e-mail and any attachments is intended only for the attention of the
addressee(s). Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying is not
permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all
copies and inform the sender by return e-mail. Any views expressed in this
message are not necessarily those of the Department of Health and Social
Care. Please note: Incoming and outgoing email messages are routinely
monitored for compliance with our policy on the use of electronic
communications.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
3. https://www.nhs.uk/
4. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
5. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-f...
6. https://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/
7. http://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/re...
8. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/news-blogs-events...
9. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/news-blogs-events...
10. https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs/
11. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

FreedomofInformation, Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr/Ms Sanderson,

Your requested internal review of FOI-1232303 is now complete. Please see the attached letter for the outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Charlene Carter
Freedom of Information Casework Manager
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU

show quoted sections

T Sanderson left an annotation ()

Appealed to ICO.

T Sanderson left an annotation ()

Additional information sent to ICO (case still waiting for officer to be assigned):

" With reference to this case I'd like to clarify that despite the assurance that 'this information will be
published very shortly', given on 3 July, the data remains unavailable two months later. No information at all on the number of people tested has been made available for the period that I requested in this FOI request (from 23rd May).

Moreover, despite some improvements, this information is not being made available even for recent testing efforts. Two sources of data are available on testing. The government coronavirus dashboard shows the number of tests processed each day. This was 1.15 million tests (Pillar I and Pillar II) during the week 20-26 Aug. Separately the test and trace report provides some indication of the number of people tested (for week of 20-26 Aug this was 452,679). However it notes that these are only people 'newly tested'. Therefore it is unclear how many people are represented by the 1.15 million tests performed in that week. Was it 452,679, with on average 2.5 tests per person? Or was it much higher but with some people tested long previously not counting towards the total? The reality is likely some combination of the two but the relative contribution is not clear. The positivity rate too is not available from this data. The numerator (cases) is made available but this relates to people whereas the denominator (tests) does not.

This needs to be urgently corrected. "