Tuesday, 8 September 2009
The hushing-up system
"The ‘hushing-up’ system is in sanitary matters about as dangerous as anything can well be” - The Lancet, 1870.
The above quote came out of a scandal in Whitehaven in 1870 when the sanitary conditions in the town were so bad that typhoid took hold and a government inspector had to be sent to the town to sort us out. The chairman of the Workhouse had blamed the press as their articles "had a tendency to spread the disease rather than check it". The Lancet quite rightly pointed out the dangers of the 'hushing-up' system of disease control. Accurate facts and information can only aid in the better control of epidemics. Yet 140 years on it seems we have learned nothing.
I suggested yesterday that Newham University Hospital Trust should win the Swine Flu Secrecy Award for 2009 but I'm thinking now it should go to NHS West Midlands. Here's two quotes from The Birmingham Mail when reporters asked for basic details on swine flu deaths in that area:
"NHS West Midlands said another adult with the H1N1 virus has died, but would not disclose the age, sex or location of the death" - Birmingham Mail August 28, 2009
An NHS West Midlands health authority spokeswoman refused to give any further details about the victim, or where they were from. She added: 'We cannot confirm whether swine flu was a contributing factor in the latest case as we are awaiting test results. We cannot also yet say whether this person was healthy or had underlying health conditions'." Birmingham Mail, July 17 2009
The chairman of Whitehaven Workhouse would be proud of them.