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​Freedom of information and data protection

​Here you can find out about how to make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act and how we will deal with your request.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you the right to see information held by public organisations in the UK, including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. We take our freedom of information responsibilities seriously and welcome the rights of access that the Act sets out. We publish a wide range of material about our work in our Publication Scheme but you can also request information from us under the Act.

How do I make a request?

If you can't find the information about us that you are looking for on our website, including in our Freedom of Information disclosure log, you can ask us for it by emailing us at:

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk.

Or write to us at:

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Millbank Tower

Millbank

London SW1P 4QP.


When making your request, please include the following details:

  • your name and address (an email address will do)
  • the information or documents you want to look at and
  • how you would like us to send the information to you (for example, hard copy or by email).

What happens after I make my request?

We aim to send you a reply as soon as possible and must send you a response within 20 working days of the day after you submit your request.. We will:

  • give you the information you've asked for
  • let you know where you can find the information
  • confirm that we don't hold the information or
  • explain why we cannot give you the information.

Will I get the information I'm looking for?

Usually we will be able to give you the information you ask for. However, the Freedom of Information Actdoes contain some exemptions that allow public organisations to withhold certain types of information, such as personal data or sensitive commercial information, because the release of that information would be likely to cause harm or prejudice. As a publicly funded organisation, we are also able to turn down a request if, for example, it would be too costly for us to reply to because of the time it would take us to gather the information. We are also generally unable to provide information gathered during our investigations to the general public because the requirement for privacy under own legislation takes precedence over our duties under the Freedom of Information Act.

If we cannot give you the information you are looking for, we will write to you and explain why. We will also let you know what to do next if you disagree with our decision.

Is there a fee?

No, requests under the Freedom of Information Act are free of charge. However, we may ask you to narrow the scope of your request if it would cost us more than £450 to respond.

What to do if you are unhappy with our response

If you believe that we have made an error in processing your information request, you can request an internal review. You can do this by writing to us by post or by email to informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk. You will need to specify what the nature of the issue is, so we can consider the matter further. Where we decide action needs to be taken, we will either address any queries raised or, where appropriate, conduct a formal internal review which will look at whether the request was dealt with in compliance with the relevant legislation.

Beyond that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (www.ico.org.uk).

More information

If you want to know more about the Freedom of Information Act, go to the Information Commissioner's website at www.ico.org.uk.

The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to see information that any organisation holds about you, including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. We are committed to keeping the information that we hold about complaints, including personal and sensitive information, safe and to process it fairly and lawfully.

How do I make a request for information that you hold about me?

If you would like to receive information that we hold about you or your complaint, you can ask us for it by emailing us at:

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk

Or write to us at:

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London SW1P 4QP

When making your request, please include the following details:

  • your name and postal address
  • complaint case reference number (if you have a complaint with us)
  • the type of information or documents you want to look at (for example, you might ask for copies of notes of our telephone conversations with you or a history showing how your case has progressed)
  • how you would like us to send the information to you (for example, hard copy or by email).

When will I hear from you about my request?

We aim to send you a reply as soon as possible, and we must do so by the latest within 40 calendar days.

Will I receive everything you hold about me?

If you ask us for your personal information, we will give you as much as we are able to. We are committed to transparency and accountability and want to provide you with as much information as possible, so that you can understand our processes and decisions.

The legislation that gives us our powers (the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and theParliamentary Commissioner Act 1967) says that all investigations must be carried out in private. We will not usually be able to give you all the information that we have gathered in the course of our investigation of your complaint.

The Data Protection Act also contains some other exemptions that allow us to withhold certain types of information (such as the personal data of other people, or legal advice), because the release of that information would be likely to cause harm, or affect our ability to do our work. For example, we would never be able to give you detailed information about someone else's complaint to us. Also, if we have gathered information about your complaint that was not relevant to our decision, we may not be able to release this to you. This is because of restrictions set out by the law that give us our powers.

What if I want to get copies of my medical records?

If you would like copies of your medical records, the easiest way is to ask your GP practice, optician, dentist or hospital for them. You can usually get your hospital records by writing to the hospital trust's health records manager or patient services manager. The records that we hold may not be complete.

More information

If you want to know more about your rights of access, please see the Information Commissioner's website at www.ico.org.uk