Your 1st place for FoI News
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Help!

    Posted on December 12th, 2012 admin 1 comment

    Help. I’m surfacing from a self-imposed blogging curfew in an attempt to see if anybody out there in the cyberworld can offer me any words or advice or assistance in relation to an Information Tribunal I have become embroiled in.

    The public authority in the case is the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). It would appear its purpose is to collate all data from the NHS and is responsible for publications on almost everything statistics-based that comes out of the NHS.

    Since FoI came in I’ve had limited success getting information from them and finally we seem set to lock horns in an Information Tribunal next week (December 18).

    The crux of the issue is can they refuse me the information I seek by applying a S.21 (information reasonably accessible by other means) exemption saying that I can have the data if I pay for it – the price they have quoted me is £1,550.

    As I said the issue has a long history and initially in the Information Commissioner’s Decision Notice [FS50420295] the data was refused me on the basis that it wasn’t held by the HSCIC. After my notice of appeal to the Tribunal Notice of Appeal (IR 2012)] the Information Commissioner backed down and said he agreed it was held but that it was now exempt under S.21.

    The HSCIC does state on its publication scheme that if you want a tailor-made report then it will cost and they publish a summary of these fees – but can £1,550 really mean that it is “reasonably accessible”.

    In my skeleton argument to the Tribunal I have tried to compare the HSCIC with other organisations (The Office of National Statistics, The Ministry of Justice, The Department of Work and Pensions) that hold huge databases but don’t charge people under FoI if they want to “cut and slice” it in a particular way that hasn’t been done before.

    For your information the question I asked was an update to a Parliamentary Written Answer about drug-addicted babies [Drug dependent babies] and [Drug dependent mothers]

    My concern is that if my appeal fails it opens up a trap-door in FoI that other organisations will be able to exploit to avoid having to answer questions that they feel will put them to too much work.

    I’m up against two barristers – the Information Commissioner and the HSCIC will have one – so any e-mailed advice or assistance in the case would be much appreciated.