As you might gather from my map section I quite like health geographics and find it a good way to view information. Of course the google maps approach is all very well but it is basically a lot of tables laid out over a map. What is much better is to the see the outlines of PCT areas. You can see neighbouring areas and it is much easier to see patterns.
I was quite interested to see a range of interactive maps produced by the regional public health observatories. There is a still pituture above of one of them and even on the small version you can see trends quite clearly. You can find the original here (as a techical aside you will need an SVG viewer such as the Adobe one. The SVG viewer in Firefox does not appear to work for various reasons with this site).
Now this is clearly the best way to do this. You could argue with the choice of SVG to present the maps but it is a very capable and open technology that has yet to find its feet. So why do we only see the 2005 data on these maps? We it appears it all comes down to money. Ordinance Survey wants lots of it to provide the data on PCT boundaries. The economics suggests that the department of health should receive money from the Treasury, pay it to the Ordinance survey who will then send it back to the Treasury.
Ironically the data on PCT boundaries comes from the Department of Health in the first place, although there is a degree of processing at the OS end.
There can be few better examples of how really quite reasonable projects are held back by the instance of the government on selling information to everyone, including itself. There is data sitting in one government department that would benefit the work in another, but it can't be used. Even the OFT believes that freeing information would make economic sense although there are some attempts to justify the policy also.
I have had several offers to geocode the data on this site's map to allow practice level data. To be honest I have been afraid to take them up. If you want to know the grid reference of practices in the UK the Post Office wants your cash.