Freedom of Information Policy


ELHT/C031 Version 5.1


Version 5.0


Director of Finance (SIRO)


Freedom of Information Officer/Data Protection Officer


All Trust Personnel


To identify the organisational structures that will fulfil the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and specify how the organisation will conform to the two required codes of practice for access and records management.

To be read in conjunction with:
  • C077 Confidentiality of Personal Information Policy

  • C134 Subject Access Request Policy

  • Freedom of Information Act 2000

  • NHS Digital Data Security and Protection Toolkit (

  • Information Commissioner’s Office (

  • ELHT Communication Strategy

  • ELHT Information Governance policy

  • ELHT Records management strategy


Information Governance Steering Group


Approval Committee

Information Governance Steering Group


Document approved date

21st June 2022

Next review date

May 2025


No amendments made

Measuring and monitoring compliance with the effective implementation of this procedural document is best practice and a key strand of its successful delivery. Hence, the author(s) of this procedural document has/have clearly set out how compliance with its appropriate implementation will be measured or monitored. This also includes the timescale, tool(s)/methodology and frequency as well as the responsible committee/group for monitoring its compliance and gaining assurance.

Aspect of compliance being measured or monitored. Individual Responsible for Monitoring Tool and method of monitoring Frequency of monitoring Responsible Group or Committee for monitoring
Requests provided within Timeframes Information Governance Manager Reports Monthly IGSG
Number of FOI requests received Information Governance Manager Reports Monthly IGSG


Exempt Information Under Part II Of The Freedom Of Information Act 2000 There are two types of class exemption:

a) Absolute, which do not require a test of prejudice or the balance of public interest to be in favour of non-disclosure

b) Qualified by the public interest test, which require the public body to decide whether it is in the balance of public interest to not disclosure information.

With the exemption of section 21 (information available by other means) exemptions apply not only to the communication of information but also to the duty to confirm or deny, if that itself would disclose information that it is reasonable to withhold

The Absolute Exemptions

Section (of the Act) Exemption
21 Information accessible to applicant by other means
23 Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters
32 Court Records
34 Parliamentary Privilege
36 Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (so far relating to information held by the House of Commons or the House of Lords)
40 Personal information (where disclosure may contravene the Data Protection Act 1998). (See section 4.6 of the policy).
41 Information provided in confidence (see section 4.13 of the policy)
44 Prohibitions on disclosure


Qualified Exemptions

Section (of the Act) Exemption
22 Information intended for future publication
22A Research Information
24 National Security
26 Defence
27 International Relations
28 Relations within the United Kingdom
29 The Economy
30 Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities
31 Law enforcement
33 Audit Functions
35 Formation of Government Policy
36 Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (for all public authorities except the House of Commons and the House of Lords)
37 Communications with Her Majesty, etc. and honours
38 Health and Safety
39 Environmental Information
42 Legal Professional Privilege
43 Commercial Interests


Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Complaints Procedure

1   This procedure will deal with complaints arising from the Trust duties under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in respect of maintenance of the publication scheme, and handling of requests for information
2 The Trust’s publication scheme will notify individuals about who they should complain to about the maintenance of the scheme and inform individuals of their right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
3 When communicating any decision made in relation to a request under the Act’s general right of access, the Trust will notify the applicant of their right of complaint. They should be informed of the Trust complaints procedure for dealing with issues relating the publication scheme or request handling. They should also be informed of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner
4 Any written communication (including one transmitted by electronic means) expressing dissatisfaction with the Trust response to a valid request for information, or operation of the publication scheme will be classed as a complaint.
5 Complaints should be handled by the Freedom of Information Internal Review Panel and not by person(s) party to the original decision although these persons may be consulted and/or asked to re-evaluate their decision. The FOI Officer should record on the FOI system that the request is the subject of a complaint. FOI complaints should be addressed to the Data Protection Officer, Information Governance, Royal Blackburn Hospital, Haslingden Road, Blackburn BB2 3HH
6 In all cases, complaints should be acknowledged, and the complainant informed of the Trust’s target date for determining the complaint.
7 Where it is apparent the complaint will take longer than the target time, the Trust will inform the applicant and explain the decision for
8 the delay. 8 The complaint will be arbitrated by the Trust’s Freedom of Information Internal Review Panel.
9 Where the outcome of the complaint is that information should be disclosed which was previously withheld, the information in question should be disclosed as soon as practicable and the applicant be informed
10 Where the outcome of a complaint is that procedures within the Trust have not been properly followed by Trust staff, the Trust will apologies to the applicant and take appropriate steps to prevent similar errors in future.
11 Where the outcome of a complaint is that the initial decision was correct or is otherwise in the Trust’s favour, the applicant should be informed of their right to apply to the Information Commissioner at the following address: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, Telephone: 00303 123 1113 (local rate)
12 The response letter to the applicant should be signed by the responsible officer in the Trust for FOI compliance (the Chief Executive or SIRO).



FOI Process Explained

Day 1 

•FOI request received by FOI Officer

•Within 24 hours (Working day) passed to relevant division for response

•Acknowledgement sent to requester

Day 10

•within ten working days the division provides response to the FOI Officer for processing.

Day 10-18

•FOI officer checks response and clarifys queries with Divsions and whether any exemptions apply

Day 18-20

•response sent to requester.


Equality Impact Assessment Screening Form


Information Governance Department

Lead Assessor

Head of Information Governance/Data Protection Officer

What is being assessed?

Impact of document on equality

Date of assessment


What groups have you consulted with? Include details of involvement in the Equality Impact Assessment process

Equality of Access to Health Group ☐

Staff Side Colleagues ☐

Service Users ☐

Staff Inclusion Network/s ☒

Personal Fair Diverse Champions ☐

Other (Inc. external orgs) ☒ Information Governance Steering Group


1) What is the impact on the following equality groups?


➢ Advance Equality of opportunity

➢ Foster good relations between different groups

➢ Address explicit needs of Equality target groups


➢ Unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation

➢ Failure to address explicit needs of Equality target groups


➢ It is quite acceptable for the assessment to come out as Neutral Impact.

➢ Be sure you can justify this decision with clear reasons and evidence if you are challenged

Equality Groups

Impact (Positive / Negative / Neutral)


➢ Provide brief description of the positive / negative impact identified benefits to the equality group.

➢ Is any impact identified intended or legal?

Race (All ethnic groups)



Disability (Including physical and mental impairments)

National Security





Gender Reassignment

International Relations


Religion or Belief

Relations within the United Kingdom


Sexual Orientation

The Economy



Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities


Marriage and Civil Partnership

Law enforcement


Pregnancy and maternity

Audit Functions


Other (e.g. caring, human rights)




2) In what ways does any impact identified contribute to or hinder promoting equality and diversity across the organisation? N/A

3) If your assessment identifies a negative impact on Equality Groups you must develop an action plan to avoid discrimination and ensure opportunities for promoting equality diversity and inclusion are maximised.

➢ This should include where it has been identified that further work will be undertaken to further explore

➢ the impact on equality groups

➢ This should be reviewed annually.