The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. GP practices providing medical services under contract with the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are public authorities in respect of information relating to those services.
The intention of the Act is to encourage a spirit of openness and transparency in the NHS and to let the public see how we make decisions and organise and deliver our services. The practice fully supports this aim.
The GP practice is obliged to maintain a publication scheme which identifies the documents we publish on a routine basis. The FOI Act requires every public authority to adopt and maintain a publication scheme which has been approved by the Information Commissioner, and to publish information in accordance with the scheme.
The practice has adopted the approved model for GP practice. The scheme lists information under broad classes. Where there is no information held by the practice, this will be indicated in the scheme.
Full access rights
The GP practice is obliged to respond to requests for information it holds which are not covered by the publication scheme. There will be some exemptions in the Act to what may be made available, for example personal information or information that is commercially sensitive.
All requests for information must be in writing (email is acceptable) and should include your name, address and a description of the information you wish to see.
The fees are guided through legislation but it is the practice’s policy to provide information free wherever possible. Further information can be obtained from www.legislation.gov.uk
Who to contact
If you would like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act or require advice please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your rights to confidentiality
While the purpose of the Act is to promote greater openness by public authorities, this does not alter your right to the protection of your confidentiality as a patient in accordance with Article Eight of the Human Rights Convention, the Data Protection Act 1998, Environmental Information Regulations and under common law. Under the Data Protection Act, you are entitled to see your health records or any other personal information held about you. Further guidance on how you can access your health records can be found on the website.
Your right to complain
If you are unhappy with a response received under the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to make a formal complaint. This should be made in writing to the practice. The complaint will be investigated by senior member of the practice and a response made within 20 working days.
If you still remain unhappy following this response, you have the right to refer your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Information Commissioner’s Office is independent of the NHS and has been set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. The Information Commissioners Office website has a page on how to complain under Freedom of Information.