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Nearly 390 FoI requests to Department so far this year

The Department of Health has received almost 390 Freedom of Information (FoI) requests so far this year, according to figures supplied to the Medical Independent (MI).

In 2018, the Department received 480 FoI requests, 472 of which were non-personal and eight personal.

So far this year (until 14 August), the Department has received 389   FoI requests, with 379 non-personal and 10 personal.

The Department said that last year, two applicants paid extra search and retrieval costs totalling €52.

This year so far has seen three applicants with extra search and retrieval costs, totalling €102.

The HSE confirmed that it received a total of 10,706 FoI requests in 2018, but the Executive did not provide a breakdown on how many of these were personal and how many were non-personal. 

In terms of this year’s figures, the HSE spokesperson told MI that “the validated, collated HSE data set for 2019 will not be available until year-end”.

On the issue of search and retrieval costs, the spokesperson said “there were no costs associated with search and retrieval for an FoI request in 2018; figures for 2019 will not be available until year-end”.

Nearly 37,000 FoI requests were made to public bodies last year, according to the annual report of the Information Commissioner, published in July this year.

The figure was an 8.5 per cent increase on 2017, and an increase of 32 per cent on 2015, the first full year since fees for making FoI requests were abolished.

Speaking after the publication of his annual report for 2018, Information Commissioner Mr Peter Tyndall said that the HSE was the public body that received the highest number of requests, with over 10,700 made to the Executive. 

The Information Commissioner also said that there are still an unacceptable number of cases where public bodies failed to make a decision within the required time-frame from when an FoI request is received.  Public bodies failed to issue a decision at either the initial decision-making stage or ‘internal review’ stage in 28 per cent of all cases accepted by the Commissioner’s Office.

As a result, the Information Commissioner is currently conducting an investigation of compliance with the relevant deadlines within a select number of public bodies and will publish a report of his findings later in the year.

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