Making a Freedom of Information (FOIA) or Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) request for information

If you cannot find the information you need in our publication scheme or on our website, you are entitled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) to make a request for the information. 

You can send a request for information not found in this publication scheme or listed in our disclosure log by email at eMBED.FOI@nhs.net. You can also write to the Information Governance Manager, eMBED Health Consortium, Douglas Mill, Bowling Old Lane, Bradford BD5 7JR or use our online FOIA / EIR request form

Frequently asked questions

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What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives everyone a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public bodies. There are no restrictions on age or nationality and you do not even have to live within the geographical area of our CCG. The Act places an obligation on public bodies to disclose information. The Act also sets out a series of exemptions and limitations on the public’s right of access and on our obligations to you.

One of the obligations placed upon public bodies is to produce and maintain a publication scheme.

Further guidance on the FOIA can be found here.

What are the Environmental Information Regulations?

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) give the public a similar right of access to environmental information as the FOIA, along with a similar series of exceptions to that right. These regulations apply to all public authorities which are subject to the FOIA.

Further guidance on the EIR can be found here.

How should I make an FOIA or EIR request?

You do not need to worry about the differences between the FOIA and EIR. You just need to send in your request for information you require in writing and we will ensure we follow the appropriate legislation.

When making a request you must provide us with your name and either a postal or email address, to enable us to respond. It is useful if you also provide a telephone number in case we need to clarify your request, otherwise we may write to you by letter, fax or email.  The FOIA also stipulates that you must make your request in writing, either by letter, fax or email. 

When making a request you do not need to tell us about why you want this information or what you do for a living. 

When making a FOIA or EIR, please be specific so that we can locate the information you need easier. If you are requesting a specific piece of information, please give us as many facts as possible (e.g. document name, reference or date range). This helps us narrow down our search and helps us to provide you with the information you want quicker.

If the information does not exist, we are not obliged to create it. This also means that we are not obliged to create opinions or judgements if these are not already recorded. 

We ask that you do not mix a request for information with a complaint or a comment about the services you have received. If you wish to make a compaint or comment, please use our contact us page

Guidance on making a request can be found here. If you are unsure of any aspect of making a request our FOIA team can advise and assist you.

Note:

You are allowed under EIR to make a request for information verbally. Although it will help us if you send your request in writing in the same way as if you were making an FOIA request.

If you do make your EIR request verbally, it would help us if you could confirm this by email or in writing. If you do not, we may send you a transcript of your request in order to check its accuracy. In either case we will need your name and email address or postal address so that we can send you the information you have requested. It may help you to use our FOIA and EIR request form so that you know you have sent us all the required information.

Which formats can I choose to receive the information?

You are entitled to the information recorded in documents, not the documents themselves.  However, in most cases we will send you a copy of the document containing the information you have requested.  Most of our information is stored electronically and any information you request can easily and quickly be sent to you in a PDF format.  This is quicker, less costly and usually the most convenient for you. 

You can also request the information in any format such as paper copy or on DVD / CD and we will do our best to meet your request.  Please note that we may have to levy a change for posting large amounts of paper or creating a CD / DVD.  Without payment we are not obliged to supply you with the information in that particular format and your request could be closed if you prefer not to pay and do not select another format.  Please see the charges section below for more information on when we may charge you a fee.

If you request a particular dataset in electronic form - and we have such a dataset and we are the sole owner of its copyright - where reasonably practicable we will provide you with it, subject to the exemptions and exceptions from disclosure including the protection of personal data of individuals as laid down in the FOIA, the EIR and the Data Protection Act respectively.  We will also provide the dataset in a re-useable form along with an Open Government Licence for those datasets in which we own the copyright.

What will you do with my request?

Acknowledgement

We will send you an acknowledgement to confirm that we have received your request.  The acknowledgement will also give you a reference number and identify whether your request falls under the FOIA or EIR.

The FOIA obliges us to respond promptly so we will also indicate the latest date by which you should receive a response. In both the FOIA and EIR this is 20 working days from the date of receipt for most requests.  For large or complex requests this can be extended to 40 working days although you will be informed within 20 days if this is the case. 

Process

Once we have acknowledged your request we will then start to identify and collate the information you have requested.  If we cannot determine the information you require or your request is too wide-ranging we may contact you to clarify or re-define your request. We will be happy to release as much information as possible without charging a fee. While we await clarification from you, the 20 day clock will be stopped and only re-start on receipt of your clarification.  If we do request a clarification and we do not receive it within a certain period of time (usually a month) we will regard your request as closed. 

If your request involves information related to another person or company, then we may need to consult this person or company before deciding on whether to disclose or withhold the information you have requested.

Response

Our final response must say whether we hold the information or not. If we hold the information, the response will communicate the information you have requested (unless one or more FOIA exemptions or EIR exceptions apply to either of these obligations). 

If you request information which is routinely available, for efficiency, we might send the information without regarding your request as a formal request.

Further information on how we handle requests can be found here.  

Can I be charged a fee?

We aim to make as much information as possible free of charge. This will be the case for any information we make available to download from our publication scheme. However, if you request information in a certain format such as printed or photocopied papers, CD / DVD (and the costs of preparing and posting in one of these formats exceed £50) we will contact you to request payment of the costs associated with your chosen format. We will also offer to send the information electronically at no cost.  In these cases, our charges will be subject to a charging regime laid down by Parliament.  These charges are shown in the Guide to Charges included in the lists and registers class of our publication scheme.  For a full list of our charges please see our schedule of fees.

There may be times when we have to inform you that we cannot identify, locate, retrieve or extract large volumes of information you have requested in a written request without making a charge. This charge is for the time this will take over and above an appropriate limit for our public authority which is defined by the FOIA. This is currently set at £450 for our type of authority (which amounts to 18 hours work). In such cases we will also contact you and ask you to either narrow your request or pay a charge for the work involved in fulfilling the original request. 

When we contact you for payment, the 20 day clock will be stopped until we receive your payment or you advise us to send you the information electronically. If we send you a fee notice and we do not hear from you or receive payment within three months, we will regard your request as closed.

Can you refuse my request?

The following circumstances outline where we can refuse a request for information.

If we do not hold the information requested

If we do not hold the information you have requested we cannot provide it.  Following the reorganisation of the NHS in April 2013, many responsibilities of the former primary care trusts (PCTs) were transferred to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).  However there may be cases where the responsibility for a particular function has not been transferred to us and consequently we will not hold the related information.  In such cases we will try to assist you in locating the information you have requested and suggest who you should contact.  In some circumstances we may transfer your request for you.  There may be other times when we do not know where this information is held and are unable to help.

Exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations

There are circumstances laid down in the FOIA and EIR where we may contact you to refuse your request.  We may refuse all or part of your request if the information is covered by an exemption specified in the FOIA or an exception specified in the EIR, including, but not limited to, the protection of personal and sensitive data as laid down by the Data Protection Act 1998. Where we have to withhold some of your request we will either provide you with a summary or a copy of the information in a redacted form (redaction is where the withheld information has either been black-lined out or removed entirely).

We are able to refuse a FOIA request for information if the information is readily available via our publication scheme.  So please check our publication schemebefore making a written request.

Some of these exemptions and exceptions may require us to conduct a public interest test.  This is where we must decide honestly if the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the information.  As we may require additional time to consult affected third parties and carefully decide the public interest, we may notify you that we need a reasonable period of extra time beyond the 20 working day limit to conduct this test. The FOIA stipulates that in no case should this be longer than an additional 20 working days.

If we decide to use a FOIA exemption or EIR exception, we will let you know which exemption or exception has been used and why it applies. If we have also conducted a public interest test we will also inform you why the public interest in withholding the information you have requested is greater than the public interest in disclosing it.

Repeated or vexatious requests

We are not obliged to comply with vexatious or repeated requests for the same information which has not changed since the last time you requested it.  Vexatious requests are defined as requests intended to be annoying, disruptive or which have a disproportionate impact on our work.

Further information

This webpage on the Information Commissioner’s site explains when we can refuse a request.

How can I complain if I am dissatisfied?

If you are unhappy with our response to a FOIA or EIR request or the service you have received and you wish to make a complaint or request an internal review of any decision to withhold all or part of any information you have requested, please write to the following address, quoting the reference number of the request and specific details of your complaint along with any supporting information:

Information Governance Manager, eMBED Health Consortium, Douglas Mill, Bowling Old Lane, Bradford BD5 7JR

Your complaint will be handled formally by a senior member of management not originally involved with your FOIA or EIR request.  The process will give a fresh review of all aspects of the case as necessary. We will then inform you of the outcome in writing. If the original decision is reversed we will then handle your request. 

If you are not content with the outcome of our internal review of a FOIA or EIR request, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner.  Both the FOIA and the EIR are regulated and enforced by the Information Commissioner.  

Please note that the Information Commissioner will not investigate your case unless it has been through our internal review procedure first, you can contact our FOI team at eMBED.FOI@nhs.net

You can complain at the Information Commissioner’s website or by post at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF