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Freedom of information policy

Date: April 2024

Review date: April 2029

Version 1


The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust will use all appropriate and necessary means to ensure that it complies with the legislation and associated Codes of Practice issued by the Lord Chancellor’s Department pursuant to sections 45(5) and 46(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

FOIA gives the public a general right of access to almost all types of recorded information held by public authorities. The Act came into full effect on 01 January 2005. and places a statutory obligation on all public bodies to publish details of all recorded information that they hold and to allow the general public to have access to this either via proactive publication on its website or to receive information upon request, except where an exemption applies e.g. personal or other confidential data.

The Trust recognises the importance of the Act and it will ensure that appropriate systems are put in place to publicise what recorded information is held by the Trust and how this information can be accessed on request by the general public.


The purpose of FOIA is:

  • To provide a general right of access to information held by public authorities.
  • To set out exemptions from the duty to provide information.
  • To place a requirement on public authorities, such as the Trust, to exercise discretion; they may have to determine not only whether an exemption applies but also the extent to which it may apply (some exemptions are conditional and depend on where the balance of ‘public interests lie’). • FOIA places a duty on the Trust to adopt publication schemes and to provide advice and assistance to people who wish to make, or have made requests for information, as well as making arrangements for enforcement and appeal.


FOIA legislation is wholly retrospective and applies to all information held by the Trust regardless of its date. It does not oblige the Trust to retain information which is no longer useful to it or which may be destroyed in accordance with the Trust’s retention policy.

FOIA is overseen by the Information Commissioner who has the ability to monitor organisational compliance, issue undertakings, serve information and enforcement notices and, if it deems it to be needed, initiate court proceedings to ensure compliance

This policy applies to all staff working in, or on behalf of the Trust and includes contractors, temporary and agency staff, secondees and all permanent employees.


Within the context of FOIA ‘information’ is defined as each item of material held by the Trust in paper or electronic form. This includes but is not limited to, all draft documents, agendas, minutes, emails, diaries, handwritten notes and all other recorded information.

For the purpose of this policy, ‘Policy Team(s)’ are defined as Trust directorates, teams or departments to which an FOI request has been commissioned or those who may be involved in the management of an FOI request or potential response

Policy statements

The Trust recognises its responsibility under FOIA to provide the general right of access to information held. Overall responsibility for this policy rests with the Director of Corporate Governance.

The Trust undertakes to comply with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (FOAI) and to establish a scheme to assure its fulfilment.

Duties and responsibilities

The Trust will:

  • Ensure that there is always one person with overall operational responsibility for FOI available within standard business hours.
  • Publish and maintain a Publication Scheme which is inline with the ICO Model Publication Scheme.
  • Provide clear lines of reporting and supervision for compliance with FOI via the Information Governance Group (IGG)
  • Develop and maintain clear procedures for recognising and responding to requests for information under FOI in a timely manner to meet the requirement to respond within 20 working days.
  • Maintain a Records Management Strategy that compliments FOI.

FOIA makes it an offence to alter, deface, block, erase, destroy or conceal any information from disclosure which is held by the Trust

It is the responsibility of the Director of Corporate Governance to ensure that the Trust has sufficiently efficient processes to support the FOI agenda and provide assurance that all requests are managed correctly.


The Trust will meet all the requirements of a valid FOI request, as defined in s8 of FOIA, provided that it meets with all mandatory requirements, ie it must:

  • be submitted in writing, either email or hard copy, or Trust’s website FOI request submission Form
  • state the name of applicant, ie the business or applicant name (can be initial and family name, but not solely initials),
  • contain a valid address for correspondence (email address is valid)
  • Describe the information requested
  • Be received in a legible form.

The Trust has a duty to confirm or deny whether the requested data is held, unless by doing so would confirm status of withheld data.

The Trust has systems and procedures to ensure that it complies with the duty to confirm or deny whether it holds requested information, and to provide a response to applicants within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days from the next working day of a valid request being received.

Redaction(making information unreadable to remove exempt information from a document) is sometimes necessary for documents being prepared for release. Time spent redacting does not count towards the 18hours/£450 time resource limits.

Applicants dissatisfied with the Trust’s response to their FOI request may ask the Trust to conduct an Internal Review of its handling of their request. Internal Reviews are undertaken by nominated staff not previously involved in the request, wh will consider decisions made, rationale, public interest, timeliness and all other relevant aspects of the request and may either uphold the original decision or issue new findings.

The Trust may choose to apply an exemption permitted under FOIA to any information request, to refuse a request if it is vexatious or repeated, or exceeds the appropriate limit for costs of compliance. A formal refusal notice must be issued within twenty working days informing the applicant of this decision and their right to apply for an internal review and ultimately if still not satisfied to complain to the ICO.

Data sets published in response to individual requests or through the Publication Scheme on the Trust’s website, must be made available for re-use at the point of release under the Open Government Licence, and where reasonably practicable, published in a reusable format.

Training requirements

Provide relevant FOI training for all staff with FOI responsibilities

Provide relevant FOI training for all new staff at their induction and every three years to current staff within their INSET training programme.

Provide relevant and appropriate training to nominated FOIA champions throughout the Trust, who are relied on to provide data to inform FOI responses.

Process for monitoring compliance with this policy

Compliance with this policy will be monitored quarterly by the Corporate Governance Group in consultation with the IG Officer, together with any independent reviews by Internal External Audit on a periodic basis.

The IG Officer is responsible for the revision and updating of this document in line with any changes to FOIA regulations and/or any associated legislation, and ICO directives.


Associated documents

  • Freedom of Information procedure and SOP.
  • Environmental Information Regulations Policy and Procedure to be issued.