Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

Jonathan Mendel made this Freedom of Information request to Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

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.

Dear Northampton General Hospital NHS 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 - Freedom Information Officer, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

15th April, 2013

 

Dear Dr Mendel

 

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

 

Request under Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

Request Ref: NGFOI 13/14 022

Acknowledgement Letter

 

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act, which we received at Northampton General Hospital NHS
Trust (NGH).

 

We are now processing your request and we will respond to you in full as
soon as possible. Under the Freedom of Information Act, we have 20 working
days to respond to your request from the working day after which we
receive your request into the Trust and would therefore normally do so by
14th May, 2013.

 

If for any reason it becomes apparent that there could be a delay in
responding to your Freedom of Information Act request, we will keep you
fully informed.

 

If you have any queries then please contact us on the address below or if
by e-mail to [1][Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email] quoting the reference NGFOI 13/14 022.

 

Yours sincerely,

Louise Chatwyn

 

Information Governance Manager

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Directorate of Strategy & Partnerships

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Cliftonville

Northampton

NN1 5BD

 

E-mail: [2][Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email]

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jonathan Mendel [mailto:[FOI #157602 email]]
Sent: Sun 14/04/2013 17:38
To: FOI - Freedom Information Officer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Register of payments from
pharmaceutical companies to staff

     Dear Northampton General Hospital NHS 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]
    
[3]http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a...
     [2]
    
[4]http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
     [3]
    
[5]http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
     [FOI #157602 email]
    
     Is [Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
     requests to Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust? If so, please
     contact us using this form:
     [6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/cont...
    
     Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
     published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
     [7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
    
     If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your
     web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
    
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email]
2. mailto:[Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email]
3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a...
4. http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
5. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...
6. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/cont...
7. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

FOI - Freedom Information Officer, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

2 Attachments

Dear Dr Mendel

Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

Request Ref: NGFOI 13/14: 022

Response to your Request

 

I am now pleased to be able to respond to your Freedom of Information
Request.  Please find attached the following documents:

 

 1. Full ‘Response Letter’ to your Freedom of Information Request;  
 2. Copy of our Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust Freedom of
Information Complaints Procedure Leaflet 

The files that are being sent to you are in Portable document Format
(PDF). You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Software installed on your
computer to view/read these documents. I hope that this will not present a
problem to you.

 

We are committed to ensuring that our organisation effectively meets the
statutory requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  We would
therefore be obliged if you could take a few moments to complete our
feedback survey by “clicking” on the link below.  The information provided
by this survey will be used to ensure the Trust is providing a
satisfactory service and any comments will be used to improve our
procedures.

 

[1]http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L55JBDW

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further
assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Chatwyn

Information Governance Manager
Directorate of Strategy & Partnerships

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
Cliftonville
Northampton
NN1 5BD

E-mail: [2][Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jonathan Mendel [mailto:[FOI #157602 email]]
Sent: Sun 14/04/2013 17:38
To: FOI - Freedom Information Officer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Register of payments from
pharmaceutical companies to staff

     Dear Northampton General Hospital NHS 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]
    
[3]http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a...
     [2]
    
[4]http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
     [3]
    
[5]http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
     [FOI #157602 email]
    
     Is [Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
     requests to Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust? If so, please
     contact us using this form:
     [6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/cont...
    
     Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
     published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
     [7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
    
     If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your
     web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
    
    
    

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Chatwyn,

Thanks for the prompt reply - much appreciated. Looks very interesting, from a skim. I will let you know if anything further would be useful.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Mendel