Freedom of Information (FOI)

The CCG places great importance on transparency and publishes as much information as possible on our website. There are a number of ways to find information out about the CCG as below:

Publications

We have adopted the Information Commissioners Office’s (ICO) Model Publication Scheme which describes the types of data we publish routinely. See our Publications page for more information. If you need information in an alternative format, we will do all we can reasonably do to help.

 

Our Privacy and Fair Processing Notice

This Notice explains how we will use and protect any information about you that you give us when you contact us by whatever method.

 

Environmental Information Regulations 2004

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 requires all public authorities to provide information on how our work may impact on the environment.

 


What if I can't find the information through any of the above methods?

If you can’t find the information you are interested in on our website or through our publication scheme, you may be able to request it under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

How do I request information?

Requests for Information must be made in writing e.g. letter, email or fax either by sending it to the address below:

Freedom of Information Requests, NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group St Helens Chamber, Salisbury Street, Off Chalon Way, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1FY or via an email to: sthelensccg.foi@nhs.net

 

What information must I include in my request?

The FOI Act requires certain information to be supplied before the organisation can respond to your request:

  • Your name and physical or electronic addresses for correspondence
  • A clear statement of the information you are requesting
  • The format in which you wish to receive the information
  • A contact telephone is also useful in case we need to discuss your request

What happens when my request is received?

The organisation has a legal obligation to reply to your FOI request and must do so within 20 working days of receipt. In replying we will do one of the following:

  • supply you with the information you requested
  • inform you that we don’t hold the information and, if we are able, advise you who does
  • inform you that your request will exceed the cost limit specified in the Fees Regulations and invite you to submit a further narrower request
  • inform you that we hold the information requested but refuse to provide all or part of it and explain why – this will involve citing one or more of the exemptions from the FOI Act
  • inform you that we are refusing your request on the basis it is repeated or vexatious; or
  • inform you that we need more time to consider the public interest test in relation to your request and let you know when to expect a further response. This should not be later than 40 working days after receipt of your request.

 

What can I do if I am unhappy with the reply I receive or the way in which my request was handled?

Your first point of contact should be the CCG directly; where you can request an internal review of your FOI request. If, after an internal review, you are still not satisfied you can then complain to the Information Commissioner (ICO). Details of how to do this are available at the ICO website. Full details of how to complain to the organisation will be included in our initial reply to your FOI request. Details of how to complain further to the Information Commissioner will be included in our response to your internal review request.

 

What information is excluded

We are committed to being open however the CCG is not required to comply with these obligations where one or more of the following exemptions apply:

  • Where we do not already hold the information. If we don’t hold the information and we think it may be held by another public authority we will tell you. We will normally suggest that you redirect you request to them
  • If the request is for opinions or judgements which are not already recorded
  • When the information is already reasonably accessible from elsewhere in the public domain, including our website
  • If a request is vexatious. See the Information Commissioner’s guidance on vexatious or repeated requests
  • If we receive repeated requests from the same person for information we have already provided to them
  • Where sharing personal data is contrary to the Data Protection Act
  • Where the request exceeds the costs limits. See below
  • If we plan to publish the information in the future

We may also not provide certain information based on the harm that may be caused by disclosing it. This may include for example, information related to ongoing criminal investigations, security matters or information which would impact on someone’s commercial interests. In most cases, if you request this type of data and we hold it, we must consider if it is in the public interest to disclose it. If this “public interest test” finds that there is a benefit to the public to disclose the information we must provide it.

However some information, such as national security information may be an “absolute exemption” which means we can automatically withhold the information. In these cases we may not be required to confirm or deny if we hold it.

If your request is refused, we will tell you which exemption is being applied. Where applicable we will explain why we have decided that the public interest in withholding the information or in neither confirming nor denying that we hold it, outweighs the public interest in disclosing it or confirming / denying we hold it.

Freedom of Information Act 2000: Part 2 except information contains further information on the exemptions to the act.

 

The cost of submitting a request

Our policy is to release as much information as possible without charging a fee.

However, if you are asking for a lot of material, it may be more than we can manage without it impacting on our other work. If providing the information will cost us more than £450 (or more than 18.5 hours work) we do not have to provide it. We may also charge for requests that are less than £450 but incur costs of more than £50 for photocopying, printing and posting. We may request that you pay the full cost of these activities.

Factors we are allowed to take into account in deciding whether an FOI request exceeds the cost limit are:

  • Checking whether the information is held
  • Locating the information or documents containing the information
  • Retrieving such information or documents
  • Extracting information from documents

If your request is refused on cost grounds, we will try to advise you how best to make a fresh, narrower request that can be met within the cost limit.  If we intend to request payment, we will inform you and if you do not pay within three months we do not have to provide the information.