Exercise Cygnus

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of Health and Social Care should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

FOI: Exercise Cygnus
29.3.20

It has been reported in today's Guardian newspaper (Damian Carrington 29.3.20 "UK strategy to address pandemic threat ‘not properly implemented'") that some three and a half years ago in October 2016 the NHS failed a three day government 'test' of its ability to handle a pandemic (called 'Exercise Cygnus'). It was also reported that this information concerning the failure was never made public. My FOI concerns this test and why it was not published: subsequent
1. What was the outcome of 'Exercise Cygnus' and did the NHS in any sense 'fail' in the test of its ability to handle a pandemic?
2. When did the government learn of this result and by what manner?
3. Was any evaluation report or briefing note etc. produced in respect to this finding? If so:
a. What report(s) or documents were produced?
b. Who were the authors (please provide names and intuitional affiliations)?
c. When were their findings delivered?
d. Please provide copies of all reports or briefing notes etc. pertaining to 'Exercise Cygnus'.
4. Whose decision was it not to make the findings of 'Exercise Cygnus' public? (please provide name, job title and organisation/ government department)
5. What was the reason for this decision?
6. Whose decision was it not to publish any reports or briefing notes in respect of 'Exercise Cygnus'? (please provide name, job title and organisation/ government department).
7. What was the reason for this decision?
8. Was there any plans to publish this information at a later date?
9. If so, what date?
10. What was the explanation for delaying publication of this information?

Yours faithfully,

C. Williams

Department of Health and Social Care

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Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Thank you for your request of 29 March 2020 under the Freedom of
Information Act (Ref: FOI-1213168).

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 35(1)(a) - the formulation or development of government policy.
 
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 29
May 2020.
 
Please accept my apologies for this delay.

Yours sincerely

Le-Anne Frankson
Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health and Social Care

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
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message are not necessarily those of the Department of Health and Social
Care. Please note: Incoming and outgoing email messages are routinely
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communications.

Dear Ms Frankson,

I am extremely disappointed with your response. Your department has already enjoyed over TWENTY DAYS to answer some rather simple questions, which you have failed to do. You now say you require another twenty days for you to consider the public interest. What have you been doing for the last twenty days, considering your navels?
It seems that the Department of Health and Social Care are wilfully delaying answering my simple questions for reasons of political expediency. Neither do I accept that a government department can consider the 'public interest' as you are not the public, but the government. I, on the other hand, am the public?

Yours faithfully,

C. Williams

Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Thank you for your request of 29 March 2020 under the Freedom of
Information Act (Ref: FOI-1213168).

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 35(1)(a) - the formulation or development of government policy.
 
We anticipate this process will take a further 20 working days to
complete.  We therefore aim to respond fully to your request by 26 June
2020.
 
Please accept my apologies for this delay.

Yours sincerely

Le-Anne Frankson
Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health and Social Care

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.

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

You are now in breach of your FOI obligations as you have not responded to my request for information in the allotted time to conduct the 'public interest test'. I do not want to wait any longer than I already have for this information and require you to meet your FOI obligations and urgently provide me with the requested information.
Please respond to this notification URGENTLY, otherwise, I will be forced to refer this matter to the ICO.

Yours faithfully,

C. Williams

Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Thank you for your request of 29 March 2020 under the Freedom of
Information Act (Ref: FOI-1213168).

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 35(1)(a) - the formulation or development of government policy.
 
We anticipate this process will take a further 20 working days to
complete.  We therefore aim to respond fully to your request by 24 July
2020.
 
Please accept my apologies for this delay.

Yours sincerely

Le-Anne Frankson
Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health and Social Care

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.

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

You are again in breach of your FOI obligations as a public authority. Your continued delays are completely unacceptable and I have made a complaint to both your own department and the ICO.

I would now like to know whose decision it has been to delay this information reaching me. Please provide me with their name(s), job titles, and contact details, including direct line phone numbers.

Please also provide me with your direct phone number so that I can contact you in future.

Yours faithfully,

C. Williams

FreedomofInformation, Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Thank you for your email.

There has not been any attempt by the Department of Health and Social Care to "delay" providing you with a response.

As set out in section 10(3) of the FOI Act, the Department is exercising its right to consider the balance of the public interest under section 35(1)(a), the formulation or development of government policy. You will receive a response in due course, and we are aiming to do so by 24 July. However, given the reallocation of resources within the Department to work on the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, this may not be possible. You will be informed on that date if that is the case.

Please note that an internal review cannot be carried out until you have received a response to your initial request.

In line with section 40(2) of the FOI Act, the Department does not provide individuals' contact details. The Departments contact details are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

You may find it useful to refer to the Information Commissioner’s guidance on communicating effectively and politely with public authorities at:

https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/off...

Yours sincerely,

Charlene Carter
Freedom of Information Casework Manager
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU

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Dear Charlene,

You are studiously ignoring that you and DHSC are in violation of your FOI Act obligations as a public authority as you have failed to provide me with the information I requested in a timely way, which is 20 working days, neither has DHSC conducted the long-promised public interest test (PIT) either. Quite simply these are your legal obligations under the Act, they are not a matter of negotiation or dispute. If I don’t pay my taxes to the state I can’t turn around to tell the state that I’ll send them later … at some point .. so why should DHSC be able to flout its obligations to me? Obligations are just that, obligations.

I submitted my FOI on 29th March 2020, and it has now been 65 working days, and you have still not even conducted the PIT. This is the THIRD time you have written to me advising me that you will conduct a PIT but failed to do so. On the first occasion you advised me you would have the PIT completed on 29th May. This failed to transpire. You then advised me that the process would take another 20 working days to complete, for 26th June. Again, this failed to transpire. Then today you tell me that it will take a further 20 working days to complete, for the 24th July. Having failed twice in the past, why on earth would I believe that DHSC will deliver?

As I raised with you earlier, endless delay suits that unaccountable elite which runs DHSC for reasons of political expediency. No more so than in this matter which is one of the utmost urgency and public interest. Your denials that DHSC are not acting in bad faith run hollow, rather like your assurances to complete a public interest test on time.

In response, I have made a complaint to your department and also the ICO. I will also write to my MP and make them aware of how your department operates.

Finally, I am objecting to the DHSC policy of intentionally preventing taxpayers from speaking directly to information controllers. Unlike DHSC, I want a transparent, reachable and publicly accountable department. That is an aspiration which runs counter to DHSCs culture and underlying organisational philosophy.

As my last email stated, I still require to know the names, job titles, and contact details of those person(s) responsible for delaying my FOI. If necessary, please also treat that as an FOI to.

Yours sincerely,
C Williams

Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request (our ref: FOI-1237318) 

Yours sincerely,

 Le-anne Frankson 

Freedom of Information team
Department of Health and Social Care

show quoted sections

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

How can you claim to not know the identity of those person(s) responsible for delaying my FOI? These are persons in your employment, whom you pay. Please reconsider this ludicrous assertion.

Yours faithfully,

C. Williams

Department of Health and Social Care

Dear Mr/Ms Williams,

Thank you for your request of 29 March 2020 under the Freedom of
Information Act (Ref: FOI-1213168).

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 35(1)(a) - the formulation or development of government policy.
 
We anticipate this process will take a further 20 working days to
complete.  We therefore aim to respond fully to your request by 21 August
2020.
 
Please accept my apologies for this delay.

Yours sincerely

Le-Anne Frankson
Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health and Social Care

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.