http://www.highland-news.co.uk/news/ful ... cret_.html
THE reluctance of NHS Highland to release figures of those in hospital suffering from flu is disconcerting - but not altogether surprising.
It follows the pattern established during last year's panic when the same unhelpful stance was taken. We understand that was because Scottish Government ministers wanted to handle regular announcements and figures centrally and not be upstaged by more up-to-date statistics available regionally.
There does not appear to be the same central strategy in this winter's calmer reaction to swine flu but most of us will be aware of flu-like maladies which have swept through many workplaces in the last few weeks on what appears to be a more severe level than last year. And, of course, the majority of sufferers do not consult their doctors unless absolutely necessary or there are complications.
Sources at Raigmore Hospital tell us more and more patients are showing flu symptoms, extra beds are being brought in to cope and at times there have been queues of staff to receive vaccinations.
NHS Highland continues to refuse to reveal any meaningful figures but maintains the situation is no worse than any other year. It has confirmed extra beds are needed but claims this is normal practice during winter and unrelated to the number of flu cases. But the timing will be questioned by some as this move coincides with the flu outbreak.
The local health authority's secrecy stance is difficult to understand given that it clouds the actual extent of the problem, if there indeed is one, and merely arouses suspicions that something is being hidden. After all, a flu outbreak is outwith its control and the only finger-pointing would arise if it was unprepared to cope with it. If it is coping, why hide that?
Open-ness would be the best policy - particularly as health agencies want to get over important hygiene and vaccination information, but in doing so they need to be seen as trustworthy.