Informaticopia

Friday, February 23, 2007

Information Tribunal Hearing

I have just heard that the hearing of the Information Tribunal into my request for the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS University to be disclosed by the Department of Health, will be held on Weds 4th April at Procession House, 110 Newbridge Street, London EC4V 6JL.

Information Tribunal Ref: EA/2006/0094
Information Commissioner Ref: FS50070878
Decision Notice

Back story available on this blog - start at: NHSu report & Information Tribunal

If anyone has advice or guidance about whether I should be "joined to the appeal" or about the conduct of the hearing I would be grateful.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

NHSu report & Information Tribunal

Following the decision notice issued by the Information Commissioner in November about my request for the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS University, I have now received copies of the appeal by the Department of Health and the response to the appeal by the Information Commissioner.

The Department have argued that the Information Commissioner was wrong in his application of sections 33, 35(1)(a), 40(2) and 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The appeal hearing is to be scheduled between 8th and 22nd March and the Information Tribunal and is aiming for a final determination by 22nd June 2007.

I am currently deciding whether I want to be "joined to the appeal" & will post further news wen I know the date of he appeal.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

NHSu report - DoH has appealed

Happy New year.

As regular readers of this blog will know I have been trying, for over 2 years, to get the Department of Health to disclose the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS University.

At the end of November I thought this had suceeded when the Information Commisioner issued his decision notice agreeing with me that it was in the public interest for the report to be published and ordering the department of health to disclose it within 35 days.

I have been watching for this over Christmas and New year and the 35 days expired a few days ago & I hadn't seen it.

I have found out today that the Department of Health appealed, on 21st December, to the Information Tribunal. Although I have not seen a copy of the appeal I understand it argues that the Information Commissioner was wrong in his application of sections 33, 35(1)(a), 40(2) and 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The appeal has been sent to the information commissioner and then the chair of the information tribunal will rule on what is to be done next. I do not know how long this will take but will post it here when I find out anything further.


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NHSu - IC Decision Notice Now available

The Information Commissioners web site now has the Decision notice relating to the Wells report into the NHSuniversity see http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/decisionnotices/2006/fs_50070878.pdf

You can search for Case ref number: FS50070878 or use the "Authority" drop down list to look at the Department of Health.

Now I'm just waiting for a sight of the actual report which I'm hoping will be posted on the Department of Health's New Publications page

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wells report on NHSU - IC Decision

The Information Commissioner has just released a "Decision notice" (Ref: FS50070878) relating to my request to the Department of Health to disclose the report by Sir William Wells into the NHS university (NHSU) which will appear on the Decision Notices section of their web site soon.

The creation of the NHSu was a 2001 Labour Manifesto commitment.

The Commissioner has ruled that under section 1(1) and 10 of the Freedom of Information Act:

1. The Department has not complied with its' obligations under section 1(1) of the Act in that it failed to communicate to the complainant information to which he was entitled on the basis that it is exempt from disclosure under sections 33, 35(1)(a), 40(2) and 41 of the Act.

In view of this he requires that:

The Department shall, within 35 calender days from the date of the notice (27th Nov 2006) disclose the information requested in accordance with its duty under section 1(1) of the Act.

I will not reproduce the full decision notice here - it runs to 15 pages of legal jargon and will appear on their web site soon, but I do want to give a few significant highlights.

I believe this is currently the longest running complaint.
I originally contacted my MP in Oct 2004
I sent my initial letter to the DoH on 1st Jan 2005 & they rejected my request
I appealed and they again refused (27th April 2005)

I first wrote to the Information Commissioner on 8th April 2005 and there have been various communications since.

I believe this is the first test of section 33(1) of the act which relates to audit functions of statutory bodies, and the commissioner has agreed with me that this should be disclosed to the public. It is not yet clear how much the NHSU cost but estimates of £50-£60 million pounds of taxpayers money do not seem fanciful. Maybe when we see the full report this will become clear.

During the course of the commissioners investigations the department claimed that in addition to section 33 of the act other sections applied eg 35(1) (formulation of government policy) for the entire report and sections 40(2) (personal information) and 41 (information provided in confidence) for parts of the report.

Although the commissioner accepted that some of the sections were relevant to the report in all cases he said that the public interest in disclosure was greater than the public interest in maintaining the exemption.

If the department disagrees with the Information Commissioners report they have 28 days to appeal - I hope they do not choose to exercise this right, as this has gone on long enough - however I am worried that some government lawyers will see this ruling as setting precedents which may be applied to other government departments and processes and will not be as open as I would like them to be.

I look forward to seeing the Wells report on the Department of Health Web Site as I hope there are many lessons we can learn for the future.

I still support the NHS and many of the declared aims of the NHSu although I have some doubts about the way in which it was implemented.

I will comment again here when I finally see details of the report.

I would like to say that although it has been a long wait I recognise that the Information Commissioner has received a massive number of complaints and I would like to compliment and thank the particular "Complaints Team Leader - Central Government" who has dealt with this complaint throughout in a professional and courteous way.

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