Julia Hartley-Brewer: ‘All we want to know is accurate data’

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer has taken the government to task over its coronavirus testing figures.

It comes after the UK’s statistics watchdog criticised the way testing data was being presented at the daily Downing Street briefing.

Sir David Norgrove, chairman of UK Statistics Authority, said: “The testing statistics still fall well short of its expectations.

“The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding.”

Yesterday the government reported that 135,643 test were carried out, with capacity for 200,000 - but this has been criticised for showing the number of tests, rather than the number of people tested.

Addressing the issue with health minister Edward Argar this morning, Julia said: “All we want to know is accurate data.

“This is about the government being honest with the people and saying where you’ve got it right and where you’ve got it wrong, but not misleading us - isn’t that a risk?”

Mr Argar said that the speed at which the Health Department had tried to publish figures meant it could not carry out the usual “polishing” process.

“What we’ve tried to do, quite rightly pressured by media and the public, and it’s the right thing to do, is get as much data out there as we could do and tried to be transparent as we can.”

Mr Argar concluded: “We’re working with Sir David and his team in real time to try and further enhance that data in a way that he says is rigorous.”

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