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Eurofins / Covid-19 Day 2 and 8 Tests

M Bimmler made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health and Social Care

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

Eurofins Forensic Services Limited, trading as "Eurofins COVID Testing Services" or "Eurofins" has been accredited by the DHSC since on or about 13 May 2021 as a provider of so-called Day 2 and Day 8 COVID-19 tests for persons arriving in England from abroad.

Shortly after its accreditation, Eurofins started to experience severe delivery disruption issues.

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, please could you disclose:
- any correspondence between DHSC and Eurofins on the topic of Eurofins' delivery of Day 2 and 8 tests (date range: 13 May 2021 to date)
- any DHSC internal briefings, notes, summaries, memos or similar records on the topic of Eurofins' delivery of Day 2 and 8 tests (date range: 13 May 2021 to date).

I consent to any redactions of names of Eurofins employees and junior DHSC officials, as well as non-public contact details, where deemed necessary, though would ask that (where possible) job titles are retained to facilitate understanding of correspondence.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Bimmler

Department of Health and Social Care

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References

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2. https://www.gov.uk/
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
4. https://www.nhs.uk/
5. https://www.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-co...
6. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-the-gov...
7. https://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/en/r...
8. https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/r...
9. https://www.gov.uk/volunteering/coronavi...
10. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
11. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr Bimmler,

Thank you for your request of 24 May under the Freedom of Information Act
(Ref: FOI-1332359).
 
I am writing to inform you that the Department's consideration of the
balance of the public interest with regards to your request is not yet
complete, and requires further time to complete in line with Section 10(3)
of the FOI Act.
 
The Department is currently assessing the public interest in release under
Section 43.
 
We anticipate this process will take no longer than a further 20 working
days to complete.  We therefore aim to respond fully to your request by 21
July.
 
Please accept my apologies for this delay.

Yours sincerely

Charlotte Chow
Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health and Social Care

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Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bimmer,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request (our ref: FOI-1332359).

Yours sincerely, 

Charlotte Chow
Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Health and Social Care's handling of my FOI request 'Eurofins / Covid-19 Day 2 and 8 Tests' (your ref FOI-1332359).

I note the reasoning you have given with regards to the public interest test. However, I consider your decision to be defective for the following reasons:

- You have failed to provide evidence of the prejudice which disclosure would (or would be likely to) cause to the commercial activities of the company concerned. Moreover, you failed to provide evidence that you consulted with the company concerned, to ensure that the concerns you appear to have in fact represent the concerns of that third party.

- While you have correctly cited the public interest in the performance of private sector providers of testing for international travel, you have only cited a private interest in the withholding of the information, namely the potential of release to be to the detriment of the private provider concerned. You have not shown how and why this provider's private interest in withholding of the information also translates into a public interest in withholding - you merely assert such public interest.

- You have failed to appropriately weigh the public interest in releasing against the public interest in withholding. Your decision cites the public interest in releasing, then asserts there is also public interest in withholding, but provides no evidence of a balancing test: you appear to believe that the mere interest of (any) public interest in withholding automatically concludes the public interest test, rather than balancing being required. This is demonstrably false.

- You have not considered the considerable public interest in transparency on (i) the efficacy and efficiency of border-related health measures in a pandemic, (ii) the government's management of the list of approved providers for Day 2 and Day 8 Tests, and (iii) the follow-up (or lack thereof) of complaints made by individuals about such approved providers.

- Given that the request potentially covered a number of various documents, you have completely failed to consider the records held individually and simply applied a blanket Section 43 exemption to the entire request. You have failed to show that the public interest in withholding information outweighs the public interest in releasing for every (part of a) record. You will be aware that in the comparable context of requests for access to a contract, the ICO guidance requires consideration of each individual clause where a Section 43 exemption is applied.

In the context of your department taking an extra 20 working days beyond the statutory deadline to conduct the public interest test for this request, it is particularly disappointing that your very brief substantive response fails to address the above points at all. An applicant may expect in particular an authority that takes extra time to deal with a request to explain its decision fully. I am minded to draw this concern to the attention of the Information Commissioner's Office irrespective of the eventual outcome of this internal review.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

Michael Bimmler

Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr Bimmler,

I apologise for the delay in you receiving a response to internal review
request of FOI-1332359  (our ref:IR-1348687).

Due to an administrative error and high volumes the Department of Health
and Social Care is still considering your request and we will respond as
soon as possible.

Yours sincerely, 

Ed Franklyn
Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care

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Dear Ed Franklyn,

this Internal Review (ref. IR-1348687) is highly overdue. Could you please provide a response at your earliest convenience as I will need to involve the Information Commissioner's Office otherwise.

Yours faithfully,

M Bimmler

FreedomofInformation, Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr Bimmler,

 

I am writing to notify you that the Department of Health and Social Care
(DHSC) is no longer able to respond to your request for an internal
review. This is because the ownership, and all previously held information
on the subject area/s you have enquired about, has been transferred to the
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

 

The responsibility for replying to your query now rests with UKHSA. An
agreement has been reached between DHSC and UKHSA for all existing
requests to be transferred for processing. You do not need to take any
action.

 

I apologise that we have been unable to process your enquiry at DHSC and
for the length of time you have had to wait thus far. This delay is
attributed to the overwhelming volume of queries DHSC has received
throughout the pandemic.

 

UKHSA will make every effort to process your request as swiftly as
possibly. Should you need to contact UKHSA you can do so via email at:
[1][email address]

 

DHSC FOI Team

This e-mail and any attachments is intended only for the attention of the
addressee(s). Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying is not
permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all
copies and inform the sender by return e-mail. Any views expressed in this
message are not necessarily those of the Department of Health and Social
Care. Please note: Incoming and outgoing email messages are routinely
monitored for compliance with our policy on the use of electronic
communications.

References

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