Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

Jonathan Mendel made this Freedom of Information request to Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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The request was successful.

Dear Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust,

Hospital trusts are reportedly meant to keep a register of payments from pharmaceutical companies (and other relevant companies) to staff, in case of conflicts of interest [1]. I am requesting a copy of the register for this Trust - which I would hope includes details of all relevant payments to staff and any related potential conflicts of interest. If it would be possible to have this information in an appropriate structured data format - for example, a CSV file - this would be helpful. If this Trust does not have a complete register, I would request: the release of the information on this topic that the Trust does hold; and an explanation of why the Trust does not hold a complete register.

I am aware that some would view data on pharmaceutical funding as personal data for those staff receiving the funding. Even if some of the information on this register may be classed as personal data (although this is contestable - for example, in some sectors of academia information re funding sources is made public as a matter of course) it would be covered by paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act. The release of these data is "necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed" [2]. Spurling et al's systematic review of how information from pharmaceutical companies impacts physicians' prescribing reported that, of the studies included which looked at total promotional investment, three "found that total promotional investment was positively associated with prescribing frequency...Two...found both positive results and no association...One study did not detect an association" [3]. There is thus a legitimate interest in releasing this register: the available research suggests that it is plausible that payments received influence how public money is spent and the type of care provided to members of the public.

For the reasons given above, there is a strong public interest in releasing this information. While "requests for the personal data of a third party are exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act...if disclosure would contravene section 10 of the Data Protection Act, the right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress" [2], I would argue that, even if some of those named in these documents feel that their release would cause them damage or distress, this is outweighed by the significant public interest served by releasing these data.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Jonathan Mendel

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a...
[2] http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
[3] http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...

Foi Enquiries (COUNTESS OF CHESTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST), Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request. Freedom of information only applies to corporate information; this e-mail confirms receipt of your request for this type of information only.

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act we will expect to respond to this request in 20 working days. However we are now investigating the nature of the search and the quantity of information requested. If there is a cost involved in collecting the information then we will suspend the period for response until such time as we receive your payment. We will advise you of any such costs.

In accordance with section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 where multiple requests for information are received from one person or by different persons who appear to be acting in together in a single campaign the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them. To this effect your requests for information will be dealt with under the single reference number above.

There are also a number of exemptions which the Act permits with respect to releasing information. The information will be assessed for these exemptions prior to us releasing the information to you. We will advise you if we are unable to provide the information requested.

Please note that a significant amount of information is also available via our Publication Scheme which can be accessed via the Trust’s website www.coch.nhs.uk and one of its benefits is that it makes information easily accessible and without charge.

Regards

Claire Jones
Freedom of Information Officer
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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Foi Enquiries (COUNTESS OF CHESTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST), Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

2 Attachments

Hello

Please see attached in response to your Freedom of Information Request.

I have also attached a Customer Satisfaction Survey and it would be much appreciated if you could take the time to complete this and return to us by e-mail.

Regards

Claire Jones
Freedom of Information Officer
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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