What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act gives you the right to ask any public sector organisation for all the recorded information they have on any subject.
Anyone can make a request for information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live.
If you ask for information about yourself, then your request will be handled under the Data Protection Act.
If your request is wholly or partly for “environmental information” the CCG will treat that part of your request as a request under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR).
For the CCGs FOI and EIR Policy click here.
Does the CCG hold the information you are requesting?
The CCG is responsible for the commissioning of a number of health and social care services. However there are other organisations who also have responsibility for commissioning these services.
You can check if you are requesting information from the correct organisation here
Is the information already available?
North Lincolnshire CCG is not required to provide information that is already reasonably accessible to you from elsewhere. That applies whether the information is on our own website or somewhere else in the public domain.
The CCG places great importance on transparency and proactively publishes as much information as possible on its website. This information is linked to through the Publication Scheme. Click here for further information about the Publication Scheme and the classes.
How should I word my request?
Comprehensive guidance on submitting effective requests for information is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
If the information you are interested in has not already been published on our website, please make an FOI or EIR request to us. It will help us deal with your request speedily if you:
- Clearly explain what you want to find out about. We may need to seek further clarification
- Be as specific as you can; if you want a particular piece of information please say so in your request
- Say whether the information you want relates to a specific timescale
- Ask questions such as ‘what’ or ‘how much’ as this is much more likely to result in a useful response; and
- Use open-ended questions such as ‘why’. We do not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information or giving an opinion or judgment that is not already recorded
- Don’t mix your request with complaints or comments.
Please also remember that we are only required under FOI to provide recorded information.
Valid ways to make your request
Requests under the FOI Act must be made in writing, eg letter, email or fax. Requests under the EIR can also be made verbally, e.g over the phone. You should include the following with both types of request:
- Your name and address (physical or electronic) for correspondence
- A clear statement of the information you are requesting
- A contact telephone number is useful in case we need to discuss your request
- The format in which you wish to receive the information
Format in which the information may be disclosed
Most of the information the CCG holds is stored electronically and will be disclosed to you in PDF (portable document format). If you need information to be supplied in a different format, and it is reasonable to release the information in that way, the CCG will do its best to meet your request.
What you can request
You may request any information held by or on behalf of the CCG and recorded in any form.
You are entitled to the information contained in documents, not to the documents themselves. However, where appropriate and convenient we may choose to provide a copy of the document rather than extracting the information from it.
Please note that the FOI Act and the EIR do not require public authorities to create new information or give an opinion or judgment that is not already recorded.
Are you asking for too much?
If you are asking for a lot of material, it may be more than we can manage without it significantly impacting on our other work.
Our policy, along with all other government departments, is to release as much information as possible without charging a fee. But if it will cost the department more than £450 to deal with an FOI request, which is the equivalent of 18 hours’ work. Or if we consider under the EIRs that it would be “manifestly unreasonable” to do so, we do not have to respond to it.
Factors we are allowed to take into account in deciding whether a request exceeds the cost limit are:
- Checking whether the information is held
- Locating the information or documents containing the information
- Retrieving such information or documents
- Extracting information from documents
If your request is refused on cost grounds, we will try to advise you where possible how best to make a fresh narrower request that can be met within the cost limit.
For requests that are less than the £450, we may still charge the full costs of disbursements (photocopying, printing and postage) where it exceeds £50. If we intend to do this we will inform you, and we do not have to provide the information if you fail to pay within three months.
For advice from the Information Commissioners Office on how best to make a request see:
Where to send your request
You can make a FOI or an EIR request to the following address:
Freedom of Information Team
North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group
For assistance in making a request please contact the Freedom of Information Team on 01482 672191
What the CCG will do when we receive your request
We will acknowledge your request as soon as we can.
We will let you know if your request will be dealt with under the EIR or the Data Protection Act 1998 instead of, or as well as, the FOI Act. Where you are asking for information that we routinely give out (such as leaflets, contact details etc), we may, in the interests of efficiency, just send you the information and not treat your request as a formal FOI or EIR request.
The law obliges us to answer your request promptly and at most within 20 working days from receiving it. If, in the limited circumstances where we are permitted to do so, we need to extend the timescale to give proper consideration to your request, we will let you know.
If it is not clear to us what information you want, we will need to contact you. We will do this by telephone, email or letter depending on the contact details that you supplied when you sent us your request. Our aim is to be helpful and to fulfil your request as completely as we can. The 20 working day deadline will only start when it is clear to us what you require.
If your request relates to a person/company other than yourself or where disclosure of the information you are requesting could affect the interests of another person, we may need to consult that third party before responding to your request. We will follow the guidance in section four (“Consultation with third parties”) of the FOI code of practice where it applies.
If the CCG does not hold the information requested, we will let you know and if we think it may be held by another public authority will normally suggest that you redirect your request to them.
Your rights under the FOI Act
On receipt of a valid request for information the CCG must:
- Inform you in writing whether it holds the information requested (known as the ‘duty to confirm or deny’) and if so
- Communicate that information to you
The CCG is not required to comply with these obligations where one or more exemptions apply.
Any individual or company may make a request, and you do not need to be a UK citizen or living in the UK to do so.
The CCG does not need to know why you are making the request or what you intend to do with the information.
When our FOI Act obligations do not apply
The FOI Act contains a number of exemptions from these obligations, most of which involve the application of a public interest test.
If your request is refused, our reply will identify which exemption (or exemptions) we are relying on. Where applicable, we will explain why we have decided that the public interest in withholding the information (or in neither confirming nor denying that we hold it) outweighs the public interest in disclosing it (or in confirming or denying that we hold it).
We are not obliged to comply with repeated or vexatious requests.
We are also not obliged to comply with requests that exceed the costs limit.
The EIR also contains a number of exceptions to providing information:
Your right to complain
Should you be unhappy with the outcome of an FOI or EIR request, you have the right to complain and we will conduct an internal review in accordance with the FOI Act Section 45 code of practice.
We will give you more details of your right to complain when we respond to your request. If you are dissatisfied with the results of CCG’s internal review, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner.