Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SIC orders release of NHS Lothian PFI contract

News release: 24th October 2007
The Scottish Information Commissioner has told NHS Lothian that it must disclose full details of its contract with Consort Healthcare covering the provision of building, maintenance and support services for the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.The Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, rejected the claim by NHS Lothian that the whole PFI contract was confidential, and in his decision highlighted shortcomings in the way in which NHS Lothian responded to the initial freedom of information request and his subsequent investigation.

The Commissioner found that NHS Lothian had:

• only belatedly established the full extent of the contract documentation - with over 5,000 additional pages being discovered well into the investigation;

• failed to provide justification for withholding all of this information as confidential;

• failed to provide arguments for withholding any specific portions of the contract as confidential;

• incorrectly claimed that the cost of providing the information would be excessive.

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner said:
"It is the responsibility of NHS Lothian to provide detailed justification for withholding the information requested. In this case it sought to claim that a blanket exemption of confidentiality covered every one of the thousands of pages of this detailed contract. However, other than broadly indicating why Consort Healthcare did not wish the information disclosed, NHS Lothian provided me with virtually no arguments to justify withholding the contract. As a consequence I have ordered that the contract must be disclosed."

Read the SIC decision

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