Freedom of Information (FOI)
Please find Children's Health Ireland's Freedom of Information policy below.
Making an Application
Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 should be made in writing. In preparing a request, an applicant should follow these guidelines: –
- State that the request is under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. No legal formulas are required: it is sufficient to mention the name of the Act or to state that a ” freedom of information” request is being made. Applicants requesting records that would only be available under the Act without explicitly mentioning the Act or “freedom of information” will receive a letter from the hospital informing them of this and offering assistance in preparing a valid request under the provisions of the Act..
- Provide sufficient information. Applicants should provide enough information to enable the hospital to identify the records requested.
- State any preference for the format in which the records are to be supplied. The hospital will try to accommodate such preferences where practicable.
- Provide full personal contact details. These must be sufficient to allow the hospital to establish the bona fides of applicants requesting personal information.
FOI Applications Process
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 sets down strict time limits for the processing of requests. These are as follows: –
Applications will be acknowledged within two weeks of receipt of a request
- Applications will be replied to within four weeks of receipt of a request
The hospital may extend the four-week time limit for replying to requests if
- The request relates to a very large number of records
- A large number of requests have been received from different applicants for the same records
- The records relate to a third party who may have to be contacted, the deadline may be extended by three weeks.
In the event of the hospital having to defer its reply on these grounds, applicants will receive notice of this before the end of the four-week period for normal replies and will receive the reasons for the delay.
If a request is granted, the applicant will be told in writing:-
- That the request has been granted
- The name of the person dealing with the request
- The day on which access to the relevant records has been granted, and the manner in which it has been granted
- The fee that may be charged, if applicable
- That the request has been refused and the reasons for the refusal
- The rights of appeal and review as set out below
Rights of Review and Appeal
The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage interests of third parties or the public interest. Where CHI at Temple Street invokes these decisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in respect of deferral of access to records, charges for access that may be levied and the form in which access is granted may also be appealed. Details of appeals mechanisms are given below.
An applicant requesting records under the Act may seek an internal review of the initial decision of the hospital. The grounds for appeal can include access to records being refused, access being deferred, access being in a medium other than that requested, and charges for access.
Requests for internal review must be submitted in writing within four weeks of the original decision being notified to an applicant. The request should be made to the Internal Reviewer at the hospital. The hospital must complete its internal review and notify the applicant within three weeks of the request for internal review being received.
If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may ask for that decision to be reviewed at a higher level in the Hospital.
- A request for internal review must be submitted within four weeks of the initial decision. The hospital must complete that review within three weeks.
- If you are still not satisfied with the internal review decision, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner within 6 months, whose decision is final and conclusive.
- The Information Commissioner’s decision can only be appealed to the High Court on a point of law.
Review by the Information Commissioner
Following completion of the internal review, an applicant may seek independent external review of the decision by the Information Commissioner. An application for an internal review that is not completed within three weeks is deemed to be a refusal and the applicant can proceed immediately to review by the Information Commissioner without waiting for the hospital to communicate its decision.
Appeals to the Information Commissioner must be made in writing and sent to the following address:-
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Tel. 01 6785222
Fax 01 6610570
Applications for external independent review by the Information Commissioner can be made within six months of completion of the internal review by the hospital. The Information Commissioner will advise an applicant of his decision within four months.
Appeal to the High Court
An application to a review by the Information Commissioner or any other person affected by the decision of the Commissioner following such a review may appeal to the High Court on a Point of Law only.
Fees for Personal Information under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 allows for the charging of fees in certain circumstances, and this is set out in Section 27 of the Act.
A request for Non-Personal information must be made under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Search & retrieval and photocopying charges will apply in accordance with Section 27 of the Act.