The FOI Act 2000, Guide on Implementation of the Code of Practice on Openness in the NHS,
Freedom of Information Act Overview
Transparency has also underpinned the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as there is an increasing amount of information held through Government and public authorities on individuals and the workings of the authority. By providing access it is intended that the quality of public administration will be increased, and also enable individuals to ensure their information is correct.
FOIA was passed on 30th November 2000, and has been phased in over the past five years through public authorities and other government departments. Currently there are over 50,000 such public bodies to which it applies, and in doing so grants access to a wide range of information held by the Authorities. Under the Act the definition of public authority also extends to include those organisations carrying services for public authorities.
As with the Data Protection Act, the Information Commissioner has the responsibility for enforcing the Act (which resulted in the name change to Information Commissioner).
In terms of the implications for NHS Wales (including the contractor professions), this meant that it will came fully into force in January 2005, when the right of access to information applied.
Through the Act every public authority is required to adopt, maintain and review guidance on the information they will publish, otherwise known as a publication scheme. The model publication scheme has been prepared and approved by the Information Commissioner. It may be adopted without modification by any public authority without the need for further approval and will be valid until further notice.
This publication scheme commits an authority to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information mentioned below, where this information is held by the authority. Additional assistance is provided to the definition of these classes in sector specific guidance manuals issued by the Information Commissioner.
The scheme commits an authority:
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information, including environmental information, which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
- To specify the information which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information in line with the statements contained within this scheme.
- To produce and publish the methods by which the specific information is made routinely available so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public.
- To review and update on a regular basis the information the authority makes available under this scheme.
- To produce a schedule of any fees charged for access to information which is made proactively available.
- To make this publication scheme available to the public.
Environmental Information Regulations where introduced in 2003. These enable similar access to environmental information as under the Freedom of Information Act. Requests for environmental information can be verbal as well as written.
Further information can be found via the Defra
Welsh Assembly Government: