Dear Department of Health (Northern Ireland),

Please provide a copy of the Equality Impact Assessment carried out in relation to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 and amendments or Statutory Instruments relating to these Regulations.

Please ensure a list of consultees is included and provide detailed evidence of those consultations.

Please provide evidence where the Department acknowledged and responded to advice provided to it by the Equality Commission NI, who advised that Section 75 Duties continue to apply during the health pandemic.

Please provide evidence that details how the Department is working on a public awareness campaign that REMOVES "No mask, No service" signs from ALL businesses across Northern Ireland in respect of service provision that is protected by the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

Please provide evidence that the Department is concerned about the actions of businesses who FAIL to acknowledge face covering exemptions in their business advertising and job advertising - either on Television, in print or social media, their in-store point-of-sale displays and please provide evidence that shows how the Department is adressing this failure to ensure those exempt citizens are NOT discriminated against.

If the Department has NOT fulfilled it's Section 75 Duties in relation to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 and amendments or Statutory Instruments relating to the Regulations, please provide the considered evidence for not doing so. Please also provide evidence of who the Department consulted that allowed them to come to a decision to NOT Equality Impact assess the above. Please provide evidence of the considerations that shows a higher importance to perform the below screenings during the health pandemic, but led to the Department NOT Equality Impact assessing the above.

NICE Technology Appraisal TA628 - Lorlatinib for previously treated ALK-positive advanced non-small-cell lung cancer
NICE Technology Appraisal TA629 - Obinutuzumab with bendamustine for treating follicular lymphoma after rituximab (review of TA472)
NICE Public Health Guideline NG102 - Community pharmacies: promoting health and wellbeing
NICE Technology Appraisal TA630 - Larotrectinib for treating NTRK fusion-positive solid tumours
NICE Technology Appraisal TA631 - Fremanezumab for preventing migraine
NICE Technology Appraisal TA632 - Trastuzumab emtansine for adjuvant treatment of HER2-positive early breast cancer
NICE Technology Appraisal TA633 - Ustekinumab for treating moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis
NICE Technology Appraisal TA638 - Atezolizumab with carboplatin and etoposide for untreated extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer
NICE Technology Appraisal TA639 - Atezolizumab with nab-paclitaxel for untreated PD-L1-positive, locally advanced or metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer
NICE Technology Appraisal TA640 - Treosulfan with fludarabine for malignant disease before allogeneic stem cell transplant
NICE Technology Appraisal TA641 - Brentuximab vedotin in combination for untreated systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma
NICE Technology Appraisal TA643 - Entrectinib for treating ROS1-positive advanced non-small-cell lung
NICE Technology Appraisal TA642 - Gilteritinib for treating relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukaemia
NICE Technology Appraisal TA644 - Entrectinib for treating NTRK fusion-positive solid tumours
NICE Technology Appraisal TA645 - Avelumab with axitinib for untreated advanced renal cell carcinoma
NICE Clinical Guideline NG103 - Flu vaccination: increasing uptake
Covid-19: Guidance for providers of 16-21+ Supported Accommodation Projects
Covid -19: Guidance for providers of Adoption Services
COVID CARE NI Advisory Service
Covid-19: Guidance for Residential Children’s Homes in Northern Ireland
The Professional Qualifications and Services (Miscellaneous Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020
Covid-19: Nightingale Project – Second Wave surge planning

Yours faithfully,

Catherine Edgar

Dear Department of Health (Northern Ireland),

Please will you confirm receipt of my request.

Yours faithfully,

Catherine Edgar

DoH FOI, Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

Catherine

Apologises, we have received your request. However as you will understand resources within the Department and wider health organisations throughout NI, have been stretched over the last number of months due to ongoing and ever changing Covid19 challenges. A considerable number of staff have been redeployed from their normal “day jobs” to work solely on response to the current pandemic and we may take a little longer to respond to your request than we would normally

Regards

Jeff

Jeff Burns
Information Management Branch
Department of Health (NI)

show quoted sections

Dear DoH FOI,

While I have genuine empathy for those overworked and exhausted within the Department, I ask that the Department be mindful that I and many others, are facing relentless and sometimes unlawful face covering discrimination while trying to function daily with physical and mental health impairments, we too, are stretched. I ask that the Department tries it's best to respond within the time frame however, I acknowledge it may not be possible.

Thank you for the acknowledgment.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Edgar

Dear DoH FOI,

While I acknowledged your response may be delayed, I inform you of my intent to raise a Paragraph 10 complaint with the Equality Commission NI.

While I hope a response is forthcoming, allbeit possibly delayed, I believe circumstance does not absolve the Department from its responsibilities and duties to all members of society. Section 75 duties serve a vital public function and that function was/is no less important during a pandemic - as is transparency.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Edgar

Dear DoH FOI,

While I have acknowledged the delay, please can the Department provide a detailed reason explaining the need to delay.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Edgar

DoH FOI, Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

Catherine

I am hopeful that we will get a response to you as soon as possible, but the last 12 months has seen requests for information increase by over 300%. This includes Assembly Questions, FOIs and various correspondence with members of the public. A number of staff have been re-deployed from their day to day jobs to work on Covid19 issues and therefore the number of staff trying to respond to these request is less even though the numbers have increased so dramatically.

We will respond to you, I am just pointing out that this may not be within the legislative timeframe. I hope you understand.

Regards

Jeff

Jeff Burns
Information Management Branch

show quoted sections

Catherine Edgar

Dear Jeff,

I genuinely do understand with sincere empathy.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Catherine Edgar

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

As of 28/03/2021 - In relation to my comment informing the Department that I intended to lodge a Paragraph 10 complaint (which I subsequently did), as with this FoI response, the DoH have informed me that they are unlikey to respond to that complaint within the 20 working days time frame. The Dep. has until Wed 31st March to do so. As both offer opportunites to receive the information I require, I have decided, that should I not receive a response to my Paragraph 10 complaint, I will contact the ICO in relation to this FoI, after that date.

Also, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has been informed. Should I not receive a response to my Paragraph 10 complaint by end of day 31st March 2021, I have asked them to consider investigating the Department as soon as lawfully possible for - without the requested FoI information and Paragraph 10 complaint response, detailing the Depts. EQIA considerations - what I believe to be [alleged] Section 75 duty failures.

Let's hope for a response.

Catherine Edgar

Dear Department of Health (Northern Ireland),

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 (Northern Ireland)'s handling of my FOI request 'Section 75 Duties'.

I believe the Department has had ample time to respond to my request. The below statement was made on 20th October 2020 by Jeff Burns, Information Management Branch, Department of Health. I see no credible reason for further delay.

“The Department is in the process of setting up a Covid19 Response resource, with responsibility for a number of Covid19 elements and this will include staff to specially respond to the many FOI requests we already have and those we expect to get over the coming months.” - 20th Oct 2020 – Jeff Burns.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

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

Yours faithfully,

Catherine Edgar

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

ICO Case Reference: IC-97508-X0T8

"Accordingly I have written to the Department as indicated above. I have informed the Department that if it is unable to issue a response to you within ten working days it will need to explain why, and to indicate when it will be in a position to issue a substantive response. The Commissioner will then decide whether enforcement action is required."

Dale, Christine, Department of Health (Northern Ireland)

3 Attachments

 

 

Dear Ms Edgar

Please find attached response to your FOI request. Apologies for the delay
in responding

Kind Regards

Christine

 

 

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Christine Dale – Health Development Policy Branch – Department of Health

Room C4.22, Castle Buildings, Stormont, BT4 3SQ – 028 9052 8653 –
[2][email address]

 

 

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References

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2. mailto:[email address]
3. https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/defau...

Dear Dale, Christine,

Thank you for your response. I have notified the ICO and they have acknowledged my content with your response.

Please cancel my internal review request.

I marked the request as partially successful, as the Department did not complete an Equality Impact Assessment, they cannot provide the other requested information.

I believe when developing face covering legislation, the Department have neglected and continue to neglect, fulfilling their commitment to their Equality Scheme as drawn up in accordance with Section 75 and Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which I am deeply disappointed about. I have informed the Equality Commission of this response.

I appreciate your time and I am happy with your response albeit not what I wanted to hear.

Kind regards,

Catherine Edgar

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

As mentioned above, I lodged a Paragraph 10 complaint against the Department of Health on 2nd March 2021. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 entails a mechanism under Paragraph 10 of Schedule 9, for complaining to the Equality Commision (NI) about alleged failures by Public Authorities to comply with commitments in their Equality Schemes. I have been directly and indirectly affected by the Departments failure to Equality Impact Assess (EQIA) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 and also, the Departments failure, to promote the protective measures within the Regulations to ensure disability discrimination does not occur.

4. Please provide evidence that details how the Department is working on a public awareness campaign that REMOVES "No mask, No service" signs from ALL businesses across Northern Ireland in respect of service provision that is protected by the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

4. "𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗱𝘀".

5. Please provide evidence that the Department is concerned about the actions of businesses who FAIL to acknowledge face covering exemptions in their business advertising and job advertising - either on Television, in print or social media, their in-store point-of-sale displays and please provide evidence that shows how the Department is adressing this failure to ensure those exempt citizens are NOT discriminated against.

5. "𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗱𝘀".

The Department has 𝙣𝙤𝙩 responded to my complaint.

On 28th April 2021, I contacted the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman who informed me “I was subsequently advised a response has been drafted regarding your complaint and it is anticipated that it will be issued to you within the next 7 days...I can therefore only suggest that you await this response and seek to complete the complaints process”.

As of 8th May 2021, the Department has 𝙣𝙤𝙩 responded to my complaint.

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

The Department of Health responded to my Paragraph 10 complaint.

1. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

2. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

3. 𝐌𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

4. 𝘼𝙇𝙎𝙊, attached to the Departments response to my Paragraph 10 complaint was a 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤 𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 (screened retrospectively) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, you can see that here:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

As per 3, I am taking my complaint further and have moved on to Step 2 of the Departments formal complaints procedure. Unfortunately, other than the Department actively treating me equally in society, I cannot foresee a response that will justify and excuse the inequal treatment I have been subject to, because the Department has failed to treat face covering exemption messaging equally to ‘wear a face covering messaging’. Time will tell.

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐍𝐈 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝟕𝟓 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

Catherine Edgar left an annotation ()

𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 response from the Department of Health to my Paragraph 10 complaint can be seen here:

https://twitter.com/CatherineEdgar/statu...

“You may also find it useful to know that work is currently being finalised on a new public campaign which will include reference to the fact that there are exemptions for the wearing of face coverings, including for children under the age of 13 or those with certain disabilities or health conditions”.

A belated public awareness campaign – that should have run alongside the “various advertising and awareness raising campaigns [that] focused on the ‘wear a mask’ message. This was aimed at influencing the maximum number of people in an effort to combat the pandemic” in 2020 - will not erase or make up for the damage done to my life because the Department of Health failed, and continues to fail in fulfilling its Section 75 duty commitments, especially, those that concern the disability group. To believe so, is an insult to my intelligence. Inaction from the Department of Health Northern Ireland on this issue is a disgrace, and should fill those who chose this course of action with shame. The Department failed me, and many like me.

It is now in the hands of the NIPSO.