Freedom Of Information
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was passed on 30 November 2000. it gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, with full access being granted from January 2005.
The intention of the Act is to encourage a spirit of openness and transparency in the NHS. This aim is fully supported by the NHS in South West London. Only public bodies are covered by the Act, i.e. Central Government, Local Authorities, Police and Police Authorities, the Health Service, Schools, Colleges and Universities.
The Act sets out exemptions to that right of access and also places certain obligations on public authorities. FOI replaced the Open Government Code of Practice which had operated since 1994.
Anyone can request information, although the request must be made in writing, including email. It must contain details of the applicant and the information they require.
Requests can be made for information linked to our Publication Schemes. These are guides to information which each organisation has made publicly available.
Applicants also have the right to be told whether the information they are asking about exists. If so they will be able to request it in the format they require, i.e. as a copy or summary, or they may ask to inspect the record.
The request can be made to anyone within an NHS organisation. However, it would be helpful if requests could be sent to the relevant organisation. The request does not have to refer to the Freedom of Information Act. A response must be made within 20 working days.
The Act does not require the NHS to respond to repeated requests or substantially similar requests from the same person.
Charges for Supplying information
Most information will be provided free of charge. In some instances where it costs the organisation to produce the information a charge may be made. Any charges payable will be stated in advance.
Complying with the Act
An Information Commissioner has been appointed to ensure that public bodies meet the requirements of the Act. http://www.hscic.gov.uk/foi
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