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Health Board missing FOI deadlines

Created on 05/09/2018 @ 10:18
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) says that it is taking steps to address a fall-off in dealing with Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) on time.

The Welsh Conservatives have found that the number of FOI requests being dealt with in the 20 working-day time frame by public bodies all across Wales is falling.

PTHB has been found to be one of the worst performers in the whole of Wales, responding to just 53% of requests within the time limit. Figures show that PTHB responded to 442 requests in 2017/18 with 234 handled within the 20-day limit. This compares to 71% in 2016/17.

Mandy Collins, board secretary with Powys Teaching Health Board, said: “We fully recognise that the response rates for Freedom of Information requests were not acceptable in 2017/18.

“We saw an increase in both the volume and the complexity of the requests compared with the previous year, and alongside the vital preparations for the transition to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this unfortunately adversely affected the capacity of our small information governance team to deal with the requests.

“We have already taken steps to address this.

“This includes additional capacity in the team, as well as strengthening our management focus on FOI compliance. Compliance significantly improved at the beginning of 2018/19, and our goal is to continue this progress.”

Powys County Council (PCC) has remained steady in its delivery of FOI requests on time.

The figures show that PCC responded to 1,088 during 2017/18 with 859 or 79% done within the 20-day period. PCC percentage of responses within 20 days was also 79% in the previous year.

But the Conservatives have had to issue an apology to the authority after they mixed up PTHB and PCC in their list of worst offenders for responses.

A spokesman for Powys County Council said that the information was correct on the list but not in the press release and that they would be contacting the Welsh Conservatives asking them to correct the error.

A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said: “The figure in the release which referred to Powys County Council should have read as Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB).

“We apologise to the council for this error and any inconvenience this may have caused.”

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