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Freedom of Information (FoI) Act

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Subject access requests and Freedom of Information requests during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Guy's and St Thomas' Trust (GSTT) are committed to complying with 'Right of Access' requests made under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

However, the NHS is facing unprecedented challenges relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the current time, and our resources have been prioritised to support our front-line colleagues who are working tremendously hard to provide care for our patients.

The Information Commissioner's Office has recognised the current situation in the NHS as being out of the ordinary.

While it is always our aim to be transparent and to work with a culture of openness, at this time, the care of our patients and the safety of our staff takes precedence. As a result of our prioritisation on supporting front-line colleagues, it is likely that responses to requests for information or records will be delayed, and it may sometimes take up to three months to respond to a subject access request. Therefore, please can we ask that you consider if your request is still required or can be delayed until after the this pandemic is over.

It should also be noted that we will not be able to provide copies of paper health records or have the ability to print or copy health records to complete access requests. For the period of the COVID-19 lockdown, we can only process requests if they, in part or wholly, involve electronic health records systems which staff can access and extract data from.  We will therefore suspend all requests that wholly require paper health records to complete. We will also partially suspend any part of a request which requires health records or any other content to be printed and scanned.

We apologise for this in advance, and will endeavour to provide you with as much information as we can, as soon as we are able.

For Freedom of Information requests, the Trust will continue to process these as normal, but again this will be dependent on the availability of staff, which could impact on timely delivery of FOI responses during this challenging period.

If you have a complaint linked to how we are dealing with requests, please contact the Trust Data Protection Officer at dpo@gstt.nhs.uk.

What is the act?

The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to know how our services are run, how much they cost, our targets and results and how you can make a complaint if you need to.

Anyone can request information recorded and held by us, and by law we must respond to the requests. There are some exemptions, which are managed according to the Freedom of Information Act Code of Practice (PDF 267Kb) and guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office.

Requesting information

  • Before you make a request

    Our Publications Scheme has information routinely asked for by members of the public.

    Before making a formal request to us, please check if we have already provided the information on this website.

  • If you want to make a request

    If the information you need is not on this website, you can:

    • email foi@gstt.nhs.uk
    • call 020 7188 7525
    • write to us at:
      Information Governance Department
      1st floor, South Wing
      St Thomas' Hospital
      Westminster Bridge Road
      London SE1 9RT
  • How we respond to requests

    Once we have received your request, we will send you an acknowledgement letter. We are bound by law to give you a response within 20 working days of our acknowledgement letter. We will however try to respond as quickly as possible.

    Sometimes, some or all of the information cannot be provided. If this is the case, we will explain the reasons why.

  • Charging for requests

    We are able to charge fees for requests, outlined in the Freedom of Information Fee Regulations.

    We will generally only charge you for hard copies or copying onto media eg CD. The charges will vary according to how information is made available.

    Legally, if the cost of obtaining and sending you the information is more than £450, we do not have to provide you with the information you requested. This amount is based on the DCA's (Department of Constitutional Affairs) regulations of a national cost of 18 hours work at £25 per hour.

    In certain cases, we may provide you with the information requested even if the estimated cost exceeds the limit above. In this case we can either provide the information at no charge, charge you the full cost or charge you the difference between the total cost and the limit above.

  • If you are dissatisfied with our response

    In the first instance you should appeal to us directly, in line with our FOI appeal process. Download a copy of the appeals process document (PDF 34Kb), or email us at foi@gstt.nhs.uk for a copy to be sent to you.

    If you are still dissatisfied after the appeals process, you have the right, under section 50 of the Act, to apply to the Information Commissioner to seek resolution to the matter.

  • FOI satisfaction survey

    We welcome feedback about our request process and our compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.  We would be grateful if you could take a couple of minutes to complete and submit the form, or post your feedback to:

    Information Governance Department
    1st floor, South Wing
    St Thomas' Hospital
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 9RT

    Complete the survey – you will need your FOI request reference number .

 

Information we hold about you

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 we must keep your health records safe and confidential.