Autism Act (NI) 2011: DoH resistance to comply

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

Dear Department of Health (Northern Ireland),

Dear Sir/Madam
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I am requesting the following material within the remit of the NI Autism Strategy and Action Plan mandated by the Autism Act (NI) 2011:

1. Correspondence exchange between the Department of Health (DoH) and the All Party Group on Autism (APGA) from 2016 to the present.

2. Documentation (including correspondence, reports and minutes/notes of meetings) relating to the planning, progress and implementation of Action Plans 1, 2 and 3 of the NI Autism Strategy 2013-2020 within the context of the legislative duty of the DoH as the lead government Department responsible under the Autism Act (NI)2011.

3. The minutes of all meetings that have been held by the committees set up within the NI Autism Strategy Implementation Structure since its inception and launch in 2012/13, namely the ASISOG (Senior Officers Group), the ASMAIT (MultiAgency Implementation Team) and the NIASRAC (Research Advisory Committee) also including the Prevalence SubGroup.

4. The minutes of all meetings between the Department of Health (DoH) and the Regional Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) regarding the implementation of the NI Autism Strategy and Action Plan including those focused upon planning, review, refreshing and restructuring the Strategy and/or Action Plan(s) from 2013 to the present.

5. Correspondence and minutes of all meetings between the Department of Health and the Third Sector Organisations (Disability Action and CiNI) that were asked by the DoH to negotiate a participation and engagement model between the Department and the Autism Third Sector regarding the NI Autism Strategy and Action Plan(s) from 2013 to the present. In addition, the frequency of any unminuted meetings is requested and documentation (correspondence, reports, minutes) detailing the decision not to proceed with a model of engagement.

6. Correspondence and minutes of all meetings between the Department of Health(DoH) and autism advocacy organisations such as Autism NI and the National Autistic Society (NI) as part of the DoH’s obligation to set up an effective engagement and participation mechanism under the NI Autism Strategy and Action Plan(s) from 2013 to the present. In addition, the frequency of any unminuted meetings is requested.

7. Any documentation addressing the rationale behind the decision to use the limited response (200 approx) from the Ten Thousand Voices initiative as the mechanism to inform autism policy at government level.

8. Documentation relating to the awareness campaign mandated in the Autism Act (NI)2011 including the rationale for not spending the budget allocated (circa £60k) and for not proceeding with the recommendations of the government’s Autism Advisory Committee (NIASRAC) to proceed on a strategy of training targeted to key professional groups.

9. Any documentation addressing the DoH’s decision in 2016/17 to delay the planned review of autism services by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

10. Correspondence exchange (not made available to the NIASRAC members) between the DoH and Dr Karola Dillenburger (QUB) with reference to the NIASRAC (NI Autism Strategy Research Advisory Committee) from 2012 to 2018. In addition, the minutes of any meetings between DoH officials and Dr Dillenburger and the frequency and content of any undocumented meetings regarding the NIASRAC.

11. Documents setting out the DoH complaints and appeals procedure that constitute best practice and due process as it would relate to any dispute resolution between Dr Dillenburger and any other member of the NIASRAC.

12. Documentation (including correspondence, reports and minutes of meetings) relating to the planning, progress and implementation of the NI Autism Strategy 2020-2027.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

McCann, John (DOH), Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

2 Attachments

Dr Cassidy

We have received your Freedom of Information request and I attach your
acknowledgement letter and a Public Information Leaflet.

John McCann
Information Management Branch
Department of Health
Tel: 02890 528218

John McCann
Information Management Branch
DoH
Tel: 02890 528218

show quoted sections

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

Dear McCann, John (DOH),

Thank you for your recent acknowledgment.

I look forward to receiving the requested information.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

McCaw, Darren, Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

3 Attachments

Dr Cassidy,

 

Please find attached a response to your FOI request of 26 July 2019.

 

Thanks

Darren.

________________________________________________________

Darren McCaw

Learning Disability Unit

Department of Health (DoH)

Room D1 Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SQ

Email: [email address] I Tel: 02890 522309

 

Please note I work compressed hours and I am only in the office until
12:30pm on Tuesday and Friday each week

 

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

Dear McCaw, Darren,

The FOI exchange is not complete:

1. The response received is less than transparent on a number of issues.
2. The decision to redact names of the members of the implementation structures is in variance with a previous decision by Chris Matthews to release the names and other details of the members of the Northern Ireland Autism Strategy Research Advisory Committee (NIASRAC) under an earlier FOI request submitted by a separate individual or entity.
3. To extract the withheld information a further FOI will be submitted in due course or a request for an internal review will be made.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE

McCaw, Darren, Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

I am currently out of the office.  If your enquiry is urgent please
contact 028 90 523159.

 

Please note your e-mail has not been forwarded.

Thanks.