What is the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act?
This is the law that provides you with the right to request information that may be held by public authorities such as your hospital. In the NHS, the aim of the FOI is to demonstrate openness and honesty.
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives members of the public the right to request official information from public authorities. The aim of the Act is to promote greater openness and transparency. The Act operates alongside the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) which gives people access to environmental information held by public authorities and the Data Protection Act 2018 which allows individuals to access information held about The Act applies to most public authorities and governs access to non-personal corporate information.
The Acts sets out three main provisions which are that public authorities:
- Inform a person making a request whether we hold the information of the description specified in the request
- Communicate the information held to the applicant unless an exemption exists
- Adopt & maintain a publication scheme (information regularly published by the organisation).
What information can I obtain?
Subject to certain exemptions listed in the FOI Act, you can make a request for information held by us, for instance corporate information about the business processes of the Trust; i.e. financial / tendering / statistical information.
We have already made some of the corporate information we produce available through our website, which is also our Publication Scheme. We intend to release more information through our Publication Scheme depending on what patients want to know.
The Publication Scheme contains a guide to the types of information we have already made available or intend to make available in the future.
What types of information are available?
The FOI Act refers to “classes” of information, with a class being the information available on a particular topic.
Information is not limited to paper documents and includes available information held or recorded in electronic format. We can not and will not provide information of a sensitive or confidential nature relating to our patients, staff or corporate activities as this is restricted by law and would damage our ability to deliver high quality, safe patient care. However were possible, we are committed to publicly providing as much information as we can.
What information is already available?
We make sure that a great deal of the corporate information we produce is available through our Publication Scheme (our website). Other information is made readily available upon request, within statutory timescales.
Our Publication Scheme is a guide to the information routinely published by us. For ease, we outline seven main categories of information available.
These seven categories are as follows:
- Who we are and what we do
- What we spend and how we spend it
- Our priorities and how we are doing
- How we make decisions
- Our Policies and Procedures
- Lists and Registers
- The services that we offer
It is important to us that the Scheme meets your needs and we have designed it to be a route map so that you can easily find information about your Trust.
We also provide a search facility on the website. However, if you feel there is information that could usefully be incorporated into the Scheme that we have missed, please feel free to contact us.
Can I get access to information about myself or other patients?
Not under FOI but you may have access to information regarding your own healthcare under the Data Protection Act which governs requests about information held on you as a individual. Please speak to your healthcare professional about this.
Will I be able to get access to all of the Trust’s information?
The right to obtain information may be limited by some exemptions which are listed within law. The effect of the exemptions is that we may not be able to supply all or part of the information requested.
You will be informed of any exemptions that may apply and if possible we will supply all the information you requested.
Is there a charge for information supplied from the Publication Scheme?
We try to provide this information free of charge however for some information or some documents we may be required to carry out significant amounts of work or photocopying - see Charging Policy.
While we are obliged to provide information that incurs a cost to the hospital of up to £450, if we estimate our costs will exceed this amount, we may require a fee before we begin working on your behalf. Our costs and the fee we charge are all in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.
How can I request information?
To enact your rights, you must make your request in writing, either by e-mail or letter to the address provided below.
The request must include a name and address so that we can contact you with our response. You do not need to tell us why you want the information, however you must give us enough detail about the information you require to allow us to correctly identify it for you.
If we require a fee, we shall inform you of this once we have received your request.
When we have received your request, (and if applicable, any payment owed), we have 20 working days to provide you with a suitable response. Where we can respond sooner, we will, and if we believe we may require longer than 20 working days we will inform you.
Send requests for information to:
Information Governance Team
Aintree University Hospital
Or E-mail: FOIRequests@liverpoolft.nhs.uk
Where can I see the Publication Scheme?
Our Scheme can be found on here
How we process requests
The Trust will acknowledge all requests and consider if the request is valid i.e. is in writing, includes a name & contact address and clearly describes the information being requested.
If the request doesn’t describe what information is required we will seek clarification. We will then check to see what information we hold that relates to your request, if we do not hold any relevant information we will let you know as soon as possible, and we will try to direct you to where you might be able to access the information.
If we hold relevant information generally we will supply it within 20 working days from receipt of the request. If some or all of the requested information cannot be provided we will tell you the reason for this.
There are some exemptions set out by the Act which the Trust takes into account before deciding if information held can be released. Where it will take more than 18-hours to locate, retrieve and extract the information to respond to your request then the Trust is entitled to refuse the request.
Before refusing a request on this basis, we will however work with you to look at other ways of providing the information so that your request does not exceed the statutory limit set by the Act.
Complaints and appeals
If you wish to make a complaint about our handling of your request or about our Publication Scheme, these should in the first instance be addressed to:
Information Governance Team
Aintree University Hospital
Or E-mail: FOIRequests@liverpoolft.nhs.uk
You are also free to contact the regulator with responsibility for ensuring organisations comply with the Freedom of Information Act. However, they are likely to require that you exhaust any local complaints process:
The Information Commissioner
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (Helpline) Fax: 01625 524 510
The Information Commissioners Office also provide public advice on access to information and other related areas. Their advice and guidance can be found on their website
What does Clinical Governance mean?
Clinical Governance is a framework through which NHS Organisations are accountable for continually improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish and which will provide the patient with a high quality patient centred health care experience that meets the Trusts objectives and the Patient’s needs.
What is Information Governance?
As a healthcare organisation, Aintree University Hospital handles sensitive personal information about patients which we need to ensure is appropriately managed. We also handle large amounts of corporate information about the overall performance and day to day management of the Trust.
It is crucial that, as a modern organisation we manage the information in an appropriate way and in compliance with the law. The law and statutory regulations govern how we handle and manage information - this is called Information Governance.
This Information Governance Framework contains the set of standards that all NHS organisations must follow to make sure that information is managed effectively and confidentially.
Two examples of information governance are
- Confidentiality and Data Protection – provides information on how the Trust maintains patient confidentiality and how to access health records & personal information held by the Trust
- Freedom of Information – provides information on the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the information routinely published by the Trust and how to request access to corporate information
What is a Foundation Trust?
A Foundation Trust is an NHS organisation that gives greater opportunities for local people, patients and staff to have more of a say about the way in which services are provided. A Foundation Trust operates independently of central Government.
Greater independence brings greater flexibility - a Foundation Trust operates independently of central Government controls, giving the ability to take and make their own decisions, which means it can respond directly to local needs, designing services to meet them and, if necessary, borrowing and raising money to fund them.
By its status and governance arrangements, the Foundation Trust is accountable to patients and the community. This is achieved through making membership of the Trust available to all. If you would like to have a say in the future of the Foundation Trust please take the opportunity to become a member.
An NHS Foundation Trust is still part of the NHS and follows all the same national guidelines, targets, standards and principles.
What is a SIRO?
A SIRO is the Senior Information Risk Owner in the organisation. The role supports implementation of international / government standard for information management and security.
- Ultimately accountable for assurance of information security at the organisation
- Champions information security at Board level
- Owns corporate policy on information security
- Provides an annual statement of the security of information assets for the Annual Governance Statement (as part of the audit process)
Aintree University Hospital SIRO:
Ian Jones, Director of Finance and Business Services
Tel: 0151 529 2297
Who or What is the Caldicott Guardian?
Caldicott Guardians are appointed to develop and maintain responsible, appropriate and secure practices for sharing and handling of personal health information, in accordance with the six principles developed in the Caldicott Report.
Caldicott Guardian Responsibilities:
- Actively support work to facilitate and enable information sharing, and advise on options for lawful and ethical processing of information as required
- Represent Information Governance requirements and issues at Board level
- Support development of processes, including performance frameworks, that satisfy the highest practical standards for handling person-identifiable information and acts as the "conscience" of the organisation.
Aintree University Hospital Caldicott Guardian:
Tristan Cope, Medical Director
Tel: 0151 529 2231