Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Strengths:

Act provides apparent transparency to the public on the operation of public services.

Weaknesses:

In a climate of competition and tendering for business, the Act puts the public sector at a disadvantage because it is easier to obtain information about the public sector body (including business intelligence/commercial information).

The Act allows anybody to request anything which, even if they subsequently cannot have the information (or it does not exist), takes up a lot of time to consider and process. As no additional funding has been provided to administer the operation of the Act, funds have needed to be taken away from front-line services in order to manage the requests.

People (especially journalists/researchers) seem to have become lazy and rather than looking for the information themselves on websites/in reports etc, simply put in a request (which then takes time to respond to).

The publication scheme seems to not be used by the public—it seems like a waste of time/resources to develop and maintain it.

The split between the FOIA and DPA is silly and confusing to the public (and often to public bodies who need to respond to requests).

February 2012

Prepared 25th July 2012