"A patient opt-out marker for general practice disclosures"

The request was successful.

Dear Health and Social Care Information Centre,

Thank you very much for all your previous FOI responses.

I would like to make further a request under the FOI Act.

For the purposes of the Act, please take the date of your receipt of this request as Friday 20th April 2012.

• Please can you provide me with the latest version of the GPES Document entitled "A patient opt-out marker for general practice disclosures".

I believe that the purpose of this document is to articulate the intentions of the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) Project to enable patients to opt-out of certain types of disclosures of patient identifiable data from their general practice records, by means of newly-created read codes.

As per Section 1(4) of the FOI Act
( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000... ) I would like the information in question held at the time when my request is received (draft or otherwise), except that account may be taken of any amendment or deletion made between now and the latest time by which the information is to be communicated to me, being an amendment or deletion that would have been made regardless of the receipt of my request.

I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to send me the requested information promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt of my request.

I wish to receive the information by email; I believe such a request would be reasonable in these circumstances. As per Section 11 of the FOI Act ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000... ) I would be grateful if you would "so far as reasonably practicable give effect to that preference"; if you determine that it is not reasonably practicable to comply with this preference then you are required by law to notify me of the reasons for your determination. As per the Act, I have provided you with a valid return address, namely the unique email address that this request originates from.

If my request is denied in whole or in part, or specific items within the responses are withheld from disclosure, then you must justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act, as per Section 17 of the Act
( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000... ). Where you rely on a qualified exemption to withhold disclosure, you are obliged to consider the public interest in your decision and the refusal notice must explain not only which exemption applies and why, but also the public interest arguments addressed in reaching the decision.

I would be grateful if you would kindly acknowledge receipt of this request as recommended by the ICO (“It would be good practice to acknowledge receipt of requests and to refer to the 20 working day time limit, so that applicants know their request is being dealt with”).

Thank you once again.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Neil Bhatia

Enquiries CRM,

 

Re: Enquiry Ref: NIC-150315-C8YDD

 

 

 

Dear Neil Bhatia,

 

I am writing to acknowledge that your request for information was received
by The NHS Information Centre on (20/04/2012) and is currently being
considered.

 

If The NHS IC is able to provide you with the information you have
requested, then under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act you are
entitled to receive it promptly and in any event not later than the 20th
working day following the date of receipt. However, we may need to contact
you to clarify your request, if this is required we aim to do this
promptly but no later than 7 days after receiving your initial request for
information.

 

May I take this opportunity to explain the FOI Act in more detail. The Act
provides a 'General right of access to information held by public
authorities. However, it also defines a number of exemptions which may
prevent the release of some or all of the information you have requested.
Therefore, the NHS IC will assess your information request in light of any
relevant exemptions.

 

If exemptions do apply, then the NHS IC may decide not to release all, or
part, of the information you have requested. I shall inform you if this is
the case, and advise you of your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken as to whether to
release the information to you.

 

The response to your request will be sent to you by email, however if you
require your response in any other format, please contact me to discuss a
suitable format.

 

The NHS IC will not normally charge a fee to provide you with the
information you have requested, unless the cost of dealing with your
request is more than £450 as outlined in Section 12 of the FOI Act and
Section 3 of the The FOI and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004. If it appears likely that your request will cost more,
then the NHS IC is able to refuse to supply the information.  As per our
obligations under Section 16 of the FOI Act, every effort will be made to
provide you with details of how you may be able to reframe your request in
order for us to complete the required work within the (£450 / 18 person
hours) cost limit.

 

If you have any queries or should you wish to make a compliant about the
manner in which your request is being processed then please do not
hesitate to contact me at the above address in the first instance. Any
complaints will be investigated in accordance with the NHS IC's complaints
procedure.

 

Further information about your rights under the Freedom of Information
Act, is available from the Information Commissioner's Office, Wilmslow,
Cheshire and on the Information Centre's website.

 

Kind Regards,

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AE

Tel: 0845 300 6016

E-mail: [1][NHS Information Centre request email]
[2]http://www.ic.nhs.uk

show quoted sections

Enquiries CRM,

 

Re: Enquiry Ref: NIC-150315-C8YDD

Dear Dr Bhatia,

Thank you for your enquiry, please see the following response form our
GPES team regarding you FOI request:

----- 

The document you refer to you is out to consultation with the Joint
General Practice IT Committee of the British Medical Association and the
Royal College of General Practitioners, and as such is not yet available. 

-----

Many Tnanks

Kind Regards,

Humera Afzal

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AE

Tel: 0845 300 6016

E-mail: [1][NHS Information Centre request email]
[2]http://www.ic.nhs.uk

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dr Neil Bhatia

Dear Health and Social Care Information Centre,

Enquiry Ref: NIC-150315-C8YDD

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of the Health and Social Care Information Centre's handling of my FOI request "A patient opt-out marker for general practice disclosures".

Your response to my request was:

"The document you refer to you is out to consultation with the Joint General Practice IT Committee of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners, and as such is not yet available."

I am deeply disappointed (and quite honestly surprised) that the IC has such total and absolute ignorance of the FOI Act.

The Act clearly states:

1 General right of access to information held by public authorities.

(1)Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled—

(a)to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b)if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.

and

17 Refusal of request.

(1)A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision of Part II relating to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which—

(a)states that fact,
(b)specifies the exemption in question, and
(c)states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

The IC has breached section 17 of the Act by failing, within 20 working days, to issue a lawful refusal notice explaining:

•why they felt the information, or withheld items within it, were exempted, and
•under which exemption they were relying on for each withheld item, and
•the reasons why the public interest in not confirming or withholding the information was greater than the public interest in its confirmation or disclosure

It is the responsibility of the IC to show that it has complied with the Act. In doing so, it must:

•assume that the public interest test starts with a presumption of disclosure
•show that the information is has withheld is exempt
•show that the public interest in keeping the exempt information confidential is greater that the public interest in its disclosure
•and if it cannot meet both the above tests, the information that I have requested must be disclosed

I would like to stress some of the reasons information should be disclosed in the public interest, namely to ensure that :

•there is informed public debate about significant decisions made by the authority
•the public are able to participate effectively in decisions affecting them
•there is adequate scrutiny of the decision-making process as regards the implementation of GPES
•the IC is accountable and transparent in the spending of public money – particularly so within this economic climate
•the public is not deceived about the way that the IC operates
•the IC deals fairly with the public

In addition, public interest tests should not take into account:

•possible embarrassment of government or other public authority officials
•the seniority of persons involved in the subject matter
•possible loss of confidence in government or other public authority
•possible loss of confidence in GPES or any other IT programme

The IC have not demonstrated why release of this plan now would result in unfairness to others.

The IC have not demonstrated why release of this plan now would result in obvious harm to the IC or third parties.

The IC cannot argue that the information is too complicated for me to understand.

The IC cannot argue that the disclosure of the plan might misinform the public because, for example, it is in draft form or incomplete.

Just because the document "is out to consultation" does not exempt the information from release.

As regards the internal review, I would like to stress the following:

•The Information Commissioner considers it important that internal reviews are completed as promptly as possible.
•The Information Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review.
•There is also an implied recommendation, supported by guidance issued by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, that the complainant should be kept fully informed throughout the review process.
•The Information Commissioner does not expect an internal review of a response to an FOI request to have more than one stage.
•The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs' Code of Practice on the discharge of public authorities' functions under Part I of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states the following: “Where the complaint concerns a request for information under the general rights of access, the review should be undertaken by someone senior to the person who took the original decision, where this is reasonably practicable.”

Accordingly I would expect completion of the review within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Neil Bhatia

Enquiries CRM,

 

Re: Enquiry Ref: NIC-151744-5VZ84

 

 

 

Dear Neil Bhatia,

 

I am writing to acknowledge that your request for review of information
provided under reference NIC-150315-C8YDD was received by The NHS
Information Centre on 04/05/2012 and is currently being considered.

 

If The NHS IC is able to provide you with the information you have
requested, then under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act you are
entitled to receive it promptly and in any event not later than the 20th
working day following the date of receipt. However, we may need to contact
you to clarify your request, if this is required we aim to do this
promptly but no later than 7 days after receiving your initial request for
information.

 

May I take this opportunity to explain the FOI Act in more detail. The Act
provides a 'General right of access to information held by public
authorities. However, it also defines a number of exemptions which may
prevent the release of some or all of the information you have requested.
Therefore, the NHS IC will assess your information request in light of any
relevant exemptions.

 

If exemptions do apply, then the NHS IC may decide not to release all, or
part, of the information you have requested. I shall inform you if this is
the case, and advise you of your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken as to whether to
release the information to you.

 

The response to your request will be sent to you by email, however if you
require your response in any other format, please contact me to discuss a
suitable format.

 

The NHS IC will not normally charge a fee to provide you with the
information you have requested, unless the cost of dealing with your
request is more than £450 as outlined in Section 12 of the FOI Act and
Section 3 of the The FOI and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004. If it appears likely that your request will cost more,
then the NHS IC is able to refuse to supply the information.  As per our
obligations under Section 16 of the FOI Act, every effort will be made to
provide you with details of how you may be able to reframe your request in
order for us to complete the required work within the (£450 / 18 person
hours) cost limit.

 

If you have any queries or should you wish to make a complaint about the
manner in which your request is being processed then please do not
hesitate to contact me at the above address in the first instance. Any
complaints will be investigated in accordance with the NHS IC's complaints
procedure.

 

Further information about your rights under the Freedom of Information
Act, is available from the Information Commissioner's Office, Wilmslow,
Cheshire and on the Information Centre's website.

 

Kind Regards,

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AE

Tel: 0845 300 6016

E-mail: [1][NHS Information Centre request email]
[2]http://www.ic.nhs.uk

------------------- Original Message

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Dr Neil Bhatia

Dear Enquiries CRM,

Thank you for your confirmation.

I await my internal review.

You stated (twice now):

"If exemptions do apply, then the NHS IC may decide not to release all, or part, of the information you have requested. I shall inform you if this is
the case, and advise you of your rights of appeal."

Please note that it is the very fact that you DID NOT indicate under what exemption you are withholding the information I requested that is a fundamental part of my complaint.

Also, despite your assertions, you did NOT advise me of my rights to appeal.

I will be informing the ICO of your breach, and will keep him informed about the progress of my internal review; and (no doubt) will end up writing to him to challenge your supposed exemption(s).

Yours sincerely,

Dr Neil Bhatia

Dear Enquiries CRM,

Enquiry Ref: NIC-151744-5VZ84

Further to my request for an internal review of your unexplained refusal to release this document, I have since discovered that the document in question is, in fact, publicly available on the NIGB website:

http://www.nigb.nhs.uk/nigb/meetings/nig...

together with useful detail in item seven of the minutes

http://www.nigb.nhs.uk/nigb/meetings/nig...

The read-codes in question

9Nu0 Dissent from secondary use of GP patient identifiable data (i.e. opt out)
9Nu1 Dissent withdrawn second use of GP patient identifiable data (i.e. opt back in)

were released in the April read-code update
http://www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/sy...

To that extent, you can now happily refuse to release the information to me, citing (as you are (and were) legally obliged to do under s17 of the Act) that the exemption in question is s21 (Information accessible to applicant by other means).

I look forward to your lawful refusal notice.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Neil Bhatia

Enquiries CRM,

2 Attachments

 

Re: Enquiry Ref: NIC-151744-5VZ84

Dear Neil,

Please see the attached response forwarded on behalf of our Information
Governance team.  

Kind Regards,

Gareth Dunning

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6AE

Tel: 0845 300 6016

E-mail: [1][NHS Information Centre request email]
[2]http://www.ic.nhs.uk

 

 

 

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Enquiries CRM,

Dear  Neil  Bhatia ,

 

According to our records, your enquiry  NIC-151744-5VZ84  has been
resolved and has now been closed.

This is an automatic email message which was created when we closed your
enquiry log. If, in the meantime, you have replied to our response, we
will reopen your enquiry to investigate further.

 

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact
us.

We are continually measuring our level of customer service and invite you
to participate in a short anonymous survey. To access our survey please
click [1]here. Thank you for your time.

Kind Regards

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The NHS Information Centre for health and social care
Tel: 08453006016
E-Mail: [2][NHS Information Centre request email]
[3]http://www.ic.nhs.uk

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