The Freedom of Information Act 2000 means that you have a right to see, or request a copy of, a wide range of recorded information held by Deernesspark Medical Group. This right was introduced in January 2005 but covers access to information produced by the practice prior to this date.
A lot of the Practice information is already available on our Website in information leaflets and other publications. The Freedom of Information Act gives you extra rights by allowing you to see, or have copies of information which might not otherwise be published.
Requests must be in writing with a name and address for correspondence, this can be an e-mail address and should include sufficient detail to enable us to locate the requested information. If you wish to make a request you must request a FOI form from the practice manager in writing.
If you are still unhappy you can contact the national officer who regulates the Act:
If you have any other queries about Freedom of Information within Deernesspark Medical Group or you wish to request a FOI form please do so by contacting.
Data Protection, Freedom of Information, and Environmental Information.
Fees & Charges
Scope of policy
This policy applies to the levying of fees and charges in relation to information access requests received by the council falling under:
- The Data Protection Act 1998
- The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Legal background for charges
The Data Protection Act (Section 7) allows for a flat fee of £10 to be charged for the supply of structured personal information.
Under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the “appropriate limit” prescribed in the regulations. The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, identify the “appropriate limit” of fees and charges the council is permitted to levy in response to requests made under Freedom of Information. This also applies to requests for “unstructured” personal information under Section 9A of the Data Protection Act 1998 (inserted by section 69 of FOIA).
There is no “appropriate limit” to the cost of complying with requests for environmental information. However, Regulation 8 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004,provides for the recovery of “reasonable” costs.
The ‘appropriate limit’
Under Regulation 4 of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, the “appropriate limit” is set at £450 .This is calculated on a standard rate of £25 per hour based on estimating the staff time taken to:
- Determine if the information is held
- Locate the information or a document which may contain the information
- Retrieve the information, or a document, which may contain the information
- Edit or extract the releasable information contained within a document
This calculation does not take into account the time spent/costs of:
- Checking that a request for information meets the requirements of FOIA
- Considering the application of exemptions; prejudice and/or public interest tests;
- Obtaining internal or external legal advice
- Consulting with third parties and obtaining authorization to send out information.
Based on the standard hourly rate of £25 specified in the FOIA Fees Regulations, the maximum amount of staff time spent finding, retrieving, collating and editing before exceeding the £450 cost limit is 18 hours.
To examine the information requested at the place which the practice makes available for that purpose.
Under FOIA the actual costs of communicating information released to the applicant are recoverable. This includes the cost of printing, photocopying, postage and/or supplying the information in a particular form.
Estimating the cost of an information request
FOIA information requests
The Freedom of Information Act is intended to build on existing access channels rather than replace existing access regimes. Therefore if information is reasonably accessible to applicants through other means, such as through other legislation or websites prcatice leaflets, it is exempt from FOIA. Where information is otherwise available, this means the rules for costing and charging for compliance with the act do not apply.
For information that is not otherwise accessible, if it is estimated that a request will take less than 18 hours to complete and there is no reason to withhold the information, the request will be dealt with free of charge except for disbursement costs (see section 7)
If it is estimated that such a request will take more than 18 hours to complete,
the prcatice is not obliged to comply with the request and will normally turn down requests exceeding this limit. Applicants will be assisted to make the request smaller and more precisely focussed.
The FOIA Fees Regulations provide for the costs of answering more than one request to be added together or aggregated for the purposes of estimating whether the ‘appropriate limit’ would be exceeded in relation to any one of the requests. Requests can only be aggregated in the following circumstances:
- two or more requests for information must have been made to the same public authority;
- they must be either from the same person, or from different persons who appear to the authority to be acting together or in pursuance of a campaign (section 12(4)(b) of FOIA);
- the requests must relate to the same or similar information; and
- they must have been received within a space of 60 consecutive working days. This provision is designed to prevent individuals or organisations undermining the ‘appropriate limit’ by splitting a request into smaller parts. Before applying these provisions, the Council will carefully consider the reasons for believing that requests have been framed to frustrate the cost limit.
In considering whether to refuse to answer multiple questions altogether on the grounds that they are repetitious or vexatious requests, the practice will take account of the Department of Constitutional Affairs procedural guidance.
Communicating information – disbursement costs
Irrespective of whether the request is below or above the ‘appropriate limit’, disbursements will normally be charged where the estimated photocopying cost exceeds the cost of five A4 black & white photocopies, or one A4 colour photocopy.
Under Section 11(1) of the FOIA, authorities have a duty to take account of the applicants’ preferred format for receiving information. This may include:
- summarising the information and providing the applicant with a copy (i.e. photocopying or printing)
- allowing the applicant to inspect a record containing the information
- producing material in an applicant’s preferred format (for example by putting it onto a CD-ROM, video or audio cassette) or
- translating information into a language other than English, or preparing information in another format (e.g. Braille, large type) at the request of the applicant
Charges will not be applied by the practice for costs incurred arising from meeting our obligations under disability or other equality legislation.
Postage and printing costs
Applicants may be expected to meet the postage costs. The cost of an A4 photocopy or printed sheet will be charged at 10p for black & white and 50p colour per A4 sheet and postal costs will be based on current Royal Mail charges.
The practice is committed to the use of electronic means to provide information that has been requested, and will encourage and advocate the use of these means in all appropriate cases, subject always to the stated preference of the applicant. Normally information supplied electronically will not involve a cost unless hard copy information has been specifically converted for this purpose.
Other or additional costs (to postage and printing charges) incurred as a result of communicating information in a way requested by the applicant where the overall amount exceeds £1.00, will be payable. This includes but is not limited to requests to supply information on CD ROM; floppy disc; another medium, or in a language other than English.
Time Limits and charging
The practice usually has 20 working days to respond to FOI/EIR requests and 40 calender days to respond to requests made under the Data Protection Act.
If disbursement costs apply for responding to a request under the ‘appropriate limit’ an estimated Fees Notice will be issued. Once the Fees Notice has been issued, the clock stops and the applicant has three months to pay the charge. The request lapses after 3 months if the charge remains unpaid. Only when payment has been received and has cleared does the clock restart and work begin on collating the information.
The Fees Notice will usually be issued, if possible, before any costs are incurred in preparing to answer the request. If a charge applies, the estimated fees and/or costs of supplying the information, will be payable in advance.