Freedom Of Information Act 2000


Freedom Of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act is intended to reflect a political shift from a culture of secrecy in public administration to one of openness. The underlying principle is that all information held by a public authority should be freely available except for a small number of tightly defined exempt items. It seeks to balance three rights:

The general principle is that openness is the default and that there must be good reasons for withholding information. It is based on similar legislation in many developed countries, particularly the United States and the Irish Republic

The Act gives members of the public the right to be told whether requested information exists and the right to receive that information. It sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. It is fully retrospective so it includes information we already possess. The Act is fully enforced by the Information Commissioner and became effective from January 2005.

From the NHS perspective the Act embodies much of what is already good practice as set out in the NHS Code of Openness. It supplements and complements the Data Protection Act and is qualified by our confidentiality codes. Many public bodies have already implemented the Act and, as a staging post to full implementation, NHS organisations are required to produce 'Publication Schemes' approved by the Information Commissioner.

This Publication Scheme is a complete guide to the information routinely published by Trust. It is a description of the information about our Trust which we make publicly available. We will review the Scheme at regular intervals and monitor how it is operating. It is important to us that this Scheme meets your needs.

The Publication Scheme will help you to find all the information which the Trust publishes. The Freedom of Information Act does not change the right of patients to protection of their patient confidentiality in accordance with Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, the Data Protection Act and at common law. Maintaining the legal right to patient confidentiality continues to be an important commitment on our part.

To help with this, we have appointed someone who is called a Caldicott Guardian, and who has responsibility to ensure the protection of patient confidentiality throughout the Trust in accordance with your legal rights. Our Caldicott Guardian is:

Dr David Walker - Medical Director

Trust Headquarters,

Westmorland General Hospital
Burton Road

The Trust's publication scheme.

Key Issues

Whether or not information is disclosed, there is a duty to confirm whether or not it exists. The main exemptions are:

Further information about FOI can be obtained from our FOI information leaflet here

How To Make A Freedom Of Information Request

Freedom of information requests should be sent in writing to either;

FOI Office

Trust Headquarters

Westmorland General Hospital
Burton Road

or by email to;

If you are unsure of how to format your request a template is available which may be helpful:

Click here to download template

Freedom Of Information Policy

This document outlines the Trust’s responsibilities in respect of the Freedom of Information Act. It details the procedure for dealing with requests, exceptions to the Act and further reading.

Download document

Further information can be obtained from;


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