Addendum 1 Operational Process for FOI Requests 1.
Receipt of FOI request On receipt of an FOI request the Customer Liaison Officer will enter the request on the PCTs database in Datix. Recording information When dealing with a request, the following information will be recorded: Unique reference number Initial date received by the PCT Name of the applicant Contact details of the applicant Description of the information requested Who the request has been referred to in order to source the information Follow up action taken if necessary When the request must be processed by / 20 day deadline Decision taken and details of any exemption used Date completed and sent to the applicant Confirmation The Customer Liaison Officer will write (preferably by e-mail) to the applicant confirming receipt of the request within 2 working days (please refer to the attached flow chart). This will state that the PCT intends to deal with the request within 20 working days, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Advice and Assistance If the applicant is requesting advice and assistance or has not provided enough information for the request to be dealt with (leading the Head of Patient Safety and Risk to contact the applicant to request further information), one or more of the following steps will be taken, depending on the situation: seek clarification about the request
give guidance on how to access the information from the Trust under the Publication Scheme and the general rights of access suggest other routes through which the applicant may wish to access information, including directing them to other public authorities identify independent sources of help for applicants Accessing information The Customer Liaison Officer will make an initial assessment of the nature of the request and determine the person holding the information (Responsible Officer). If this cannot be established this will be discussed with the Head of Patient Safety and Risk and a decision taken. If responsibility still cannot be established the Director of Corporate Service will be consulted. The Responsible Officer holding the information will be contacted within 2 working days and is required to respond to the request, acknowledging receipt within 1 working day. Any problems should be immediately brought to the attention of the Head of Patient Safety and Risk. An initial assessment of the request is required by the Responsible Officer to determine if the information is available or if the information needs to be created. A view may be taken whether the request may be excluded on the basis that it will take more than ÂŁ450.00 or 18 hours of work to create. A final decision however will need to be sought form the Director of Corporate Services. If the request is to be excluded, the Head of Patient Safety and Risk will advise the applicant, otherwise the Responsible Officer will be asked to continue processing the request. Refusing a request All decisions to refuse an FOI request rests with the Director of Corporate Services. A request for information may be refused if: the information is exempt under Part II of the Act the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit. the request can be demonstrated to be vexatious or repeated The applicant will be informed in writing of the decision within 20 working days of the request and will be told the following: the exemption(s) that has been applied the justification for the use of the exemption/s (if the exemption is nonabsolute, this must explain why the decision is in the public interest)
details of the PCTs FOI appeals procedure if they are not satisfied with the outcome details of the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner If the exemption is absolute, then the PCT is exempt from the duty to confirm or deny (that is the duty to tell the applicant whether or not the PCT actually holds the information). In these circumstances, the applicant will be informed within 20 working days of the following: the fact that the PCT is exempt from the duty to confirm or deny specify the exemption in question state why the exemption applies (unless it would be otherwise apparent) It is acknowledged that it can take more than 20 working days to reach a decision as to whether all or some of the information is exempt, especially in cases where the public interest has to be considered. As a result the PCT will inform the applicant of this delay and give a reasonable estimate of the date by which a decision is expected. Providing the information The Responsible Officer will be expected to respond to the Customer Liaison Officer within 3 days of receiving the FOI request with a response as to whether or not they are the holder of the information, if the information is available and the date when the information will be available. Should the information prove to be complex to gather, an extension to the deadline can be negotiated with the applicant, approval for this must however be sought form the Director of Corporative Services. Information will be provided to applicants in one or more of the following methods: a photocopy or printed copy of the information transferred by electronic means transferred on CD-ROM or floppy disk provision of a summary of the information, in one or a combination of the formats mentioned in the first 3 points, which ever is the most appropriate format. The Customer Liaison Officer will forward the information requested by the applicant within 3 working days of receiving it from the relevant areas, ensuring the 20 day timescale for a response is met. Re-use regulations When information is released it should be regarded as being released to the world. A requestor cannot make a profit by re-selling on public information or
arranging the supplied information for onward sale, for example creating a directory. If such a situation arises the requestor must ask for re-use of public sector information license. The PCT may refuse the request or alternatively request a payment for the re-use of public sector information Copyright Any information supplied under FOI continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. A copy of the wording below will be included whenever information is released under FOI. â€œThe information supplied to you continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Most documents supplied by NHS Kirklees will have been produced by government officials and will be Crown Copyright. You can find details on the arrangements for re-using Crown Copyright on HMS Online at: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/copyright/licences/click-use-home.htm Information you receive which is not subject to Crown Copyright continues to be protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from which the information originated. You must ensure that you gain their permission before reproducing any third party (non Crown Copyright) information.â€? Transferring a request All or part of a request can be transferred to another public authority if it becomes apparent that the PCT does not hold the information concerned. A transfer should only occur if it has been established that the other authority does hold the information concerned. The PCT must write to the applicant and explain that it does not hold the information and give the applicant the following options: to re-apply the request themselves to the identified authority(ies) and provide the contact details to have the request transferred by the PCT on behalf of the applicant Requests will be transferred within the PCT if the request is a Data Protection Subject Access Request or if it is to be dealt with in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations. A request must not be transferred outside the PCT without the applicants consent.
Consultation with third parties In the event that a request contains information about third parties the Customer Liaison Officer will liaise with the Head of Patient Safety and Risk or Records Manager who will refer to the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the Discharge of Public Authorities’ Functions under Part I of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, issued under Section 45 of the Act. Personal information Personal data is information about a living individual from which that individual can be identified. It may take any of the following forms: Computer documents Information processed by a computer or other equipment (e.g. CCTV) Information in medical and other records Information in some forms of structured manual records Unstructured personal information held in manual form by a public authority (the applicant is likely to be asked to provide extra details to locate the information requested) If the person requesting the information is the subject of the information then they have no right to it under the Freedom of Information Act, and the request becomes a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act. If the personal data is about someone other than the applicant, there is an exemption if disclosure would breach any of the Data Protection principles. The subject also has the right to object to the disclosure. The PCT will undertake to ensure that all requests for personal information are handled in consultation with the subject. The PCT will endeavour to balance an individual’s right to privacy with the accountability that goes with working in the public sector. Advice and support Responsible Officers receiving requests under the FOI act can at any time seek advice, information and support from the PCTs Customer Liaison Officer or Head of Patient Safety and Risk. The PCT is committed to ensure an open and proactive FOI Publication Scheme in an effort to ensure appropriate information is available and the PCT meets the 20 day deadline for actioning FOI requests. It is therefore committed to increasing awareness of all staff by means of FOI training which is provided as part of mandatory training.