Freedom of information

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives rights of public access to recorded information held by public authorities (such as Healthwatch Cornwall (HC)). The FOIA is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability among public sector bodies, and therefore facilitate a better understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties, make decisions and spend public money. One way in which the FOIA achieves this is by requiring public authorities to make information about itself and its activities routinely available to the public. The purpose of this publication scheme is to describe the information that HC makes routinely available and how to find it.

HC has adopted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ‘Model Publication Scheme’. Under the scheme, HC is committed to:

• Proactively publishing, or otherwise making available as a matter of routine, information that falls within the ‘classes of information’, sections 1 – 7 (see below).

• Specifying the information that it holds, and which falls within those ‘classes of information’.

• Publishing guidance on how this information is made available, so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public.

• Reviewing and updating, on a regular basis, the types of information it makes available.

• Publishing information on any fees that may be charged for this information.

• Making this publication scheme available to the public.

Publication of Information

Healthwatch Cornwall uses its website as the principal means of disseminating information about itself and its activities. This information may be located by using the ‘search’ facility on the site. A guide to the ‘classes of information’ that are routinely published is included in sections 1 – 7 (see below).

Information falling into the following categories will not be made routinely available:

• Information in draft form.

• Information which would be impractical or resource intensive to prepare for routine release.

• Information which is no longer readily available because it is archived or its retrieval would be difficult, impractical or resource intensive to prepare for routine release.

• Information whose release is prohibited by law, or exempt under the FOIA or is otherwise considered to be protected from disclosure.

Making a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

If the information you need is not in the publication scheme, you can also contact HC to request information under the FOIA. Please email your requests to enquiries@healthwatchcornwall.co.uk marked FOI request. You can also write to:

Healthwatch Cornwall, 6, Walsingham Place, Truro. TR1 2RP.

Your request will be responded to within 20 working days following its receipt. However, this deadline may be extended if clarification of your request is needed from you, or if (in very rare circumstances) complex issues of public interest need to be considered in deciding whether to provide certain information. HC will tell you if it needs to extend the deadline and will explain the reason why.

Some information might be exempt from disclosure under FOIA; however, HC will usually tell you if it is withholding information. It will also explain why it considers that it is appropriate to apply the exemption. In some cases, the FOIA allows HC to refuse to confirm or deny holding certain information.

For example, HC can use exemptions under FOIA to refuse to disclose confidential personal information, or to refuse to make disclosures that would make it difficult for it to carry out its regulatory role.

HC may need to consult with other people or organisations before providing you with requested information. This usually happens where you have requested information that was provided to HC by another organisation.

Unhappy with the response?

If you are unhappy with the response you receive from HC relating to your FOIA request please get in touch, giving your reasons. HC will respond to you in writing.

If you remain dissatisfied following your appeal, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office on 0303 1231 113.

Classes of Information

HC routinely publishes information within the following classifications:

1. Who it is and what it does

Information about what HC is, how it works, how it is set up, its functions, board members and staff members is available on the About Us page.
Information about HC’s location and contact details is available on the Contact Us page.
Information about what HC does is available on the Our Work and News pages.

2. What it spends and how it spends it

This information can be found in the published Board papers from in public meetings and the Annual Report.

3. What are its priorities and how it is working

The in public Board minutes and Advisory Forum papers show HC activities and can be found on the
Board and Advisory Forum page.

4. How it makes decisions

Policy and procedure documents can be found on the Policies page, including the HC Decision Making Procedure. HC publishes information about its public consultations on the Our Work page.

5. HC policies and procedures

Current written protocols, policies and procedures for delivering services and responsibilities are published on the Policies page.

6. Lists and registers

Names of Enter and View Authorised Representatives are available on the Enter and View page.

7. The services HC offers

Information about services HC offers is available on the Home and About Us pages.

Keeping this Publication Scheme up-to-date

The Communications Officer, in response to information provided by the Board, Chief Executive and operational team, will keep the Publication Scheme up-to-date.
The Publication Scheme will be reviewed annually, or whenever there is a significant change to the way HC works, the types of information it publishes, or the way in which it makes that information available.