Freedom of Information
With the NHS facing significant challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and particular pressures on our clinical, operational and support teams, we have focused our resources on supporting and caring for our patients, staff and the public. These pressures may impact on our ability to respond to your Freedom of Information request within the statutory 20-day timeline. While we will do all we can to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible, we apologise in advance for any delay and thank you for your understanding and continued support.
If you are a patient or visitor you can find out more information here. The Trust has also published high level information about Covid-19 patients here. If you would like more information about Covid-19 statistics we urge you to visit the Government website here.
Make a freedom of information request
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives you right of access to information held by the Trust.
Read the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guide to freedom of information.
Information routinely made available – publication scheme
Before making a request for information please see our publication scheme which provides a guide to the information routinely made available to the public. You can also search this website to see if the information you want is already available.
Submitting your request
All FOI requests must be in writing either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the following address.
Freedom of information Office
1st Floor, Grosvenor Wing
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Your request must include:
- the name of the person requesting the information
- an address for correspondence (a phone number or email address is also useful if we need to clarify your request)
- a description of the information required
If you have a preference, please also tell us what format you would like to receive the information (e.g. in paper, by email etc.).
Your request does not have to mention the legislation, and you do not have to tell us why you want the information, but the more details you can give, the more effective we can be in providing the information you require.
Make a verbal request
Under the environmental information regulations you can make a request verbally. An officer will transcribe this and then we will confirm your request in writing.
Environmental information pertains to the elements such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements or factors.
What happens next?
We will acknowledge your request usually within 5 working days. We will then assess the request and estimate the amount of work involved in answering it.
The legislation limits the amount of time that an organisation has to spend meeting a request to 18 actual working hours. This is plenty of time to deal with most requests but if a request requires the collection and copying of a very large amount of information that is spread across departments, it may take more than 18 hours to provide the information.
If we are unclear about exactly what you want, or your request is so large that it will take longer than 18 working hours to provide the information, we will contact you to clarify exactly what you need.
We have a maximum of 20 working days from the day after we receive the request to provide the information. If we need to ask for fees and/or any further information needed to clarify the request we will ‘stop the clock’ until we have received this.
Can you refuse my request?
There are a number of reasons for refusing to provide information, including:
- we do not hold the information
- it will take more than 18 working hours to provide the information
- if an exemption applies (see below)
If any of these apply we will write to you explaining why we cannot provide the information, along with instructions on how to appeal against this decision.
There is some information that we cannot make publicly available without significantly disrupting the ability of the Trust to deliver services, breaching privacy or confidentiality agreements, or endangering public safety. The Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations both have a list of exemptions that can be applied in these circumstances.
There are 23 exemptions and a full list c on the Information Commissioner’ Office. Some of these do not apply to information held by a NHS organisation.
Some of the exemptions apply in all circumstances but for others, we have to consider whether it is more in the public interest to release the information than to withhold it.
If we do decide that an exemption applies we will tell you why, and where relevant, the public interest reasons for doing so. You can appeal against this decision and details of how to do this will be included in our response.
What will it cost me?
Most requests under freedom of information or the environmental information regulations are met at no cost to the requester. However, there are some instances where we will require a contribution to the cost of providing the information.
If a request will take more than 18 working hours to collate the information, we are not obliged to provide the information. In some circumstances we may agree to provide the information but ask the requester to contribute to the cost of meeting the request.
You will be advised of any charges before the information is collected.
What happens if I’m not happy?
If you feel that your request has not been handled well, you do not agree that the information will be exempt, or you disagree with the suggested cost of providing the information, you can request an Internal Review of the original decision. Details of how to appeal will be provided with any response to your request.
If you are not satisfied with this decision you can complain to the Information Commissioner who is independent of the Trust.