FOISA in Brief

EthicalNHS dentists are among those public authorities that must comply with the obligations set out in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) [1]. Under the FOISA, individuals can ask to see any kind of recorded information from a dentist, however old the information is. This includes information recorded on:

  • paper;
  • computer files, including e-mails;
  • video;
  • microfiche.

The type of information that the FOISA gives the public access to includes:

  • Dental Reference Officer information;
  • Health Board information (e.g. types of patient complaints in your area);
  • Scottish Government grant application information, particularly if unsuccessful;
  • NHS Education for Scotland (NES) continuing professional development (CPD) information;
  • planning permission information;
  • why decisions affecting local services were made;
  • how public authorities decide who gets priority on waiting lists for services such as orthodontics and oral surgery.

The list of Scottish public authorities will change from time to time as new authorities are added or current authorities change their names. Further information is available from the Scottish Information Commissioner website [2].

Note that dental practices that provide care within the NHS are also covered by the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 [3] (EIRs). These provide individuals with access to the environmental information held by Scottish public authorities. One of the main differences between the EIRs and FOISA is that EIR requests can be made verbally as well as in writing, whereas FOISA requests must be made in writing. Further information is available from the Scottish Information Commissioner [4].

Comply with the FOISA by:

Sources of Information

  1. Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2002/20020013.htm
  2. Scottish Information Commissioner
  3. Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004  https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2004/520/contents
  4. Environmental Information Regulations.  Scottish Information Commissioner www.itspublicknowledge.info/foi-law