Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 reflects a national policy shift in public administration from a culture of confidentiality to one of openness.
The Act recognises that everyone has the right to know how NHS Wales services are organised and run, how much they cost and how to make complaints if they need to.
A guide to making a complaint about the NHS in Wales which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
The public also has the right to know which services are being provided, the targets that are being set, the standards of service that are expected, the results achieved and how decisions are made.
NHS Wales Statutory Organisations
NHS Wales includes a number of statutory organisations such as NHS Trusts and Local Health Boards.
These organisations are accountable to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Minister for Health and Social Services for the performance of their health functions and for meeting their statutory financial duties.
Each organisation is required to publish a Publication Scheme which is a complete guide to the information it routinely makes available to the public and explains how the information is published and whether any fee is payable for access.
The Welsh Assembly Government, the NHS statutory organisations together with the General Practitioners, dentists, pharmacists and opticians providing NHS services are individually required to provide a publication scheme under the Freedom of Information Act. Details of the schemes can be found on the organisations' websites in the Freedom of Information section.
For example Velindre NHS Trust's can be found via the link below:
Others can be found via the Services Directory pages below:
The right to information
In addition to material issued through the publication schemes, the public have a right to request any other material held by a public body.
Each organisation within NHS Wales therefore has mechanisms in place to respond to such requests, and to decide whether the requested information should be released, or whether any exemptions may apply to the request.
Generally the Freedom of Information Act provides that an individual has:
- The right to be told whether the information exists;
- The right to receive the information.
The Act does not change the right of patients to protection of their patient confidentiality.
Maintaining this legal right to patient confidentiality is an important commitment of NHS Wales. Each organisation appoints senior individuals called Caldicott Guardians who are responsible for the protection of confidentiality.
NHS Wales FOI Resources
The NHS Wales Freedom of Information micro-site has been developed to help meet the needs of the general public with relevant information. It contains useful resources and links to support information enquiries in terms of the Act.
An intranet version of the NHS Wales Freedom of Information site has also been developed to meet the needs of the service and the demands placed upon it. This website contains useful resources and links to support NHS Wales organisations in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
The NHS Direct Wales web page Your information, Your Rights explains why NHS Wales collects information about you and how this information may be used. It also tells you about your right to see your health record and how to gain access to it.
You find out more by downloading the leaflet below:
Complaints to the NHS, 2009-2010 The latest National Statistics on complaints to the NHS in Wales produced by the Welsh Assembly Government were released on 6 October 2010 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.