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FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives everyone a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public bodies such as NHS Barnsley CCG. There are no restrictions on age or nationality and you do not even have to live within the geographical area of our CCG.   The Act places an obligation on public bodies such as NHS Barnsley CCG to disclose information. The Act also sets out a series of exemptions and procedural limitations on the public’s right of access and on our obligations to you.

One of the obligations placed upon public bodies is to produce and maintain a Publication Scheme.

Further guidance on the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations can be found at http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/official_information

What are the Environmental Information Regulations?

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) give the public a similar right of access to environmental information, along with a similar series of exceptions to that right. These Regulations apply to all public authorities which are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Further guidance on the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations can be found at http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/official_information

How should I make an FOIA or EIR request?

When making a request you do not need to tell us about why you want this information or what you do for a living.   However for us to be able to respond you must provide us with your name and either a postal or an email address. Freedom of Information Act also stipulates that you must make your request in writing, either by letter, fax or email. It is useful if you can provide a telephone number just in case we need to clarify your request otherwise we may write to you by letter, fax or email.

You are allowed under Environmental Information Regulations to make a request for Environmental Information verbally, although it will help us if you do send your request in writing in the same way. If you do make your request for Environmental Information verbally, it would help us if you could confirm this by email or in writing. If you do not, we may send you a transcript of your request in order to check we have this correct. In either case, just like with Freedom of Information Act requests we will need your name and email or postal address so that we can send you the information you have requested, click here to find out how to make an FOI request.

You do not need to worry about the differences between Freedom of Information Act and EIR: simply send in your request for information you require in writing and we will ensure we follow the appropriate legislation.

When making a Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations request, any specific details you can provide will help us to locate the information for you.   So please be as precise as possible. If you want a specific piece of information, please give us as many facts as will narrow down our search, such as document name, reference or date range. This will enable us to provide you with just the information you want. As well as making it easier for us it will also help you to obtain the information you request sooner as otherwise we may need to clarify exactly what you want and we can refuse a request if it will take more than 18 hours to locate and identify too wide a range of information you have requested.

We are not obliged to create information if the information does not exist. This also means that we are not obliged to create opinions or judgements if these are not already recorded. We also ask that you do not mix a request for information with a complaint or a comment about the services you have received.

Guidance on making a request can be found at http://www.ico.org.uk/for_the_public/official_information If you are unsure of any aspect of making a request our Freedom of Information Act team can advise and assist you.

Which formats can I choose?

You are entitled to the information recorded in documents, not the documents themselves. However in most cases we will send you a copy of the document containing the information you have requested. Most of our information is stored electronically and any information you request can easily and quickly be sent to you in PDF format. This is not only quicker and less costly for us but is usually more convenient for you. However you can request the information in any format such as paper copy or on DVD or CD and we will do our best to meet your request. Please note we may have to levy a change for posting large amounts of paper or creating a CD or DVD. Without payment we are not obliged to supply you with the information in that particular format and your request could be closed if you prefer not to pay and do not select another format. Please see below for more information on when we may charge you a fee.

If you request a particular dataset in electronic form, if we have such a dataset and we are the sole owner of the copyright for this dataset where reasonably practicable we will provide you with it, subject to the exemptions and exceptions from disclosure including the protection of personal data of individuals as laid down in the FOIA, the Environmental Information Regulations and the Data Protection Act respectively. We will also provide the dataset in a re-useable form along with an Open Government Licence for those datasets in which we own the copyright.

What will you do with my request?

We will send you an acknowledgement to confirm that we have received your request. The acknowledgement will also give you a reference number and identify whether your request falls under the FOI or EIR. The Freedom of Information Act obliges us to respond promptly so we will also indicate the latest date by which you should receive a response, defined in both the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations for most requests as 20 working days from the date of receipt.  For large or complex Environmental Information Regulations requests this can be extended to 40 working days although we will inform you within 20 days if this is the case.

Once we have acknowledged your request we will then start to identify and collate the information you have requested. If we cannot determine the information you require or your request is too wide-ranging we may contact you to clarify or re-define your request although we will be happy to release as much information as possible without charging a fee. While we await clarification from you, the 20 day clock will be stopped and only re-start on receipt of your clarification. If we do request a clarification and we do not receive clarification within a certain period of time, usually a month we will regard your request as closed.

If your request involves information related to another person or company, then we may need to consult this person or company before deciding on whether to disclose or withhold the information you have requested.

Our final response must say whether we hold the information or not, and if so the response will communicate the information you have requested, unless one or more Freedom of Information Act exemptions or Environmental Information Regulations exceptions apply to either of these obligations.

If you request information which is routinely available, for the sake of simplicity and efficiency we might send the information without regarding your request as a formal request.

Further information on how we handle requests can be found at this website http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/freedom_of_information/guide/receiving_a_request

Can we charge you a fee?

NHS Barnsley CCG endeavour to make as much information as possible free of charge. This will be the case for any information we make available to download from our Publication Scheme. However if you request information in a certain format such as printed or photocopied papers, CD or DVD and the costs of preparing and posting in one of these formats is substantial we will contact you to request payment of the costs associated with your chosen format.   We will also offer to send the information electronically at no cost. We will only contact you where the costs of printing and postage exceed £50. In such cases, our charges will be subject to a charging regime laid down by Parliament. These charges are shown in the Guide to Charges included in the Lists and registers class.

There may be times when we have to inform you that we cannot identify, locate, retrieve and extract large volumes of information you have requested in a written request without making a charge for the time it will take over and above an appropriate limit for our public authority as defined by the FOIA. This is currently set at £450 for our type of authority, which according to the rules amounts to 18.5 hours work. In such cases we will also contact you and ask you to narrow your request or pay a charge for the work involved in fulfilling the original request.

When we contact you for payment of a fee, the 20 day clock will be stopped until we receive your payment or you advise us to send you the information electronically. If we send you a fees notice and we do not hear from you or receive payment within 3 months, we will regard your request as closed.

Can you refuse my request?

If we do not hold the information you have requested we cannot provide it. Following the reorganisation of the NHS in April 2013, many responsibilities of the old PCTs were transferred to the newly formed CCGs. However there may be cases where the responsibility for a particular function has not been transferred to us and consequently we will not hold the related information. In such cases we will try to assist you in locating the information you have requested and suggest who you should contact. In some circumstances we may transfer your request for you. There may be other times when we do not know where this information is held and cannot help you any further.

There are circumstances laid down in the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations where we may contact you to refuse your request. We may refuse all or part of your request if the information is covered by an exemption specified in the Freedom of Information Act or an exception contained within the EIR, including but not limited to the protection of personal and sensitive data as laid down by the Data Protection Act 1998. Where we have to withhold some of your request we will either provide you with a summary or a copy of the information in a redacted form. Redaction is where the withheld information has been black-lined out or removed entirely.

One of these exemptions allows us to refuse a Freedom of Information Act request for information if the information is readily available via our Publication Scheme. So please check our Publication Scheme before making a written request.

Some of these exemption and exceptions may require NHS Barnsley CCG to conduct a public interest test. This is where we must decide honestly the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the information. As we may require additional time to consult affected third parties and carefully decide the public interest, we may notify you that we need a reasonable period of extra time beyond the 20 working day limit to conduct this test. The Freedom of Information Act stipulates that in no case should this be longer than an additional 20 working days.

If we decide to use an Freedom of Information Act exemption or Environmental Information Regulations exception, we will let you know which exemption or exception has been used and why it applies. If we have also conducted a public interest test we will also inform you why the public interest in withholding the information you have requested is greater than the public interest in disclosing it.

We are not obliged to comply with vexatious or repeated requests for the same information which has not changed since the last time you requested it. Vexatious requests are defined as requests intended to be annoying, disruptive or which have a disproportionate impact on our work.

The following webpage on the Information Commissioner’s site explains when we can refuse a request: http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/freedom_of_information/guide/refusing_a_request

How can I complain if I am dissatisfied?

If you are unhappy with our response to a Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations request or the service you have received and you wish to make a complaint or request an internal review of any decision to withhold all or part of any information you have requested, please write to the Head of Assurance, Barnsley CCG, FOI Team, Hillder House, 49 – 51 Gawber Road, Barnsley, S75 2PY, quoting the reference number of the request.   Please provide specific details of your complaint along with any supporting information.

Your complaint will be handled formally by a senior member of management not originally involved with your Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations request. The process will give a fresh review of all aspects of the case as necessary.   We will then inform you of the outcome in writing and if the original decision is reversed we will then deal with your request once more.

If you are not content with the outcome of our internal review of a Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations request, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner. Both the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations are regulated and enforced by the Information Commissioner whose website can be found at http://www.ico.org.uk/

The Information Commissioner will not investigate your case unless you have been through our complaints procedure first so please contact our FOI team at BARNCCG.FOI@nhs.net or by post to Barnsley CCG, FOI Team, Hillder House, 49 – 51 Gawber Road, Barnsley, S75 2PY first.

You can complain to the Information Commissioner at the following website - http://ico.org.uk/complaints or by post at: The Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.