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Responding to Information Requests

EthicalUnder the FOISA, individuals have a right to access non-personal information held by public authorities, such as the examples shown in FOISA in Brief. This is in contrast to the DPA, which gives individuals a right to access their own personal data (see Data Protection Act 1998).



Do not confuse the FOISA [1], which covers non-personal information, with the DPA [2], which covers information about individuals.

Appoint someone in the dental team to deal with requests for information made under the FOISA [1].

Ask for any requests for information under the FOISA to be made in writing (e.g. letter or email) or in another recordable format (e.g. audio cassette).

Deal with FOISA requests for information within 20 working days (this is required by law). This includes:

  • determining whether the request is valid;
  • asking for clarification from the person making the request if necessary (NB: you have 20 working days to respond from receipt of clarification, if this is requested);
  • determining whether the information is exempt or not from the FOISA [1] (see Information an Individual Does Not Have the Right to Access);
  • sending the information, if appropriate.

Be prepared to offer an explanation of what is written in the record to make it understandable to the patient.

If the information requested is available in your publication scheme (see Adopting and Maintaining a Publication Scheme), direct the requester to where the information is published.

For further details about dealing with a request, refer to guidance provided by the Scottish Information Commissioner [3].

If necessary, consult with your defence organisation prior to releasing information.

If you receive a request for environmental information, refer to the Scottish Information Commissioner guidance for further information. The guidance includes a definition of ‘environmental information’ and a flowchart of how to respond [4].

If a review of your decision is requested, refer to Appeals for details.

Sources of Information

  1. Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2002/20020013.htm
  2. Data Protection Act 1998 www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents
  3. Scottish Information Commissioner Dealing with Requests.   www.itspublicknowledge.info/nmsruntime/saveasdialog.asp?lID=1750&sID=179
  4. Environmental Information Regulations and Guidance.  Scottish Information Commissioner www.itspublicknowledge.info/foi-law