Friday, March 11, 2011

FOI Disclosure Stories Feb 23rd-March 10th

New Rarer Cancers Foundation report finds that hundreds of Scottish cancer patients have been refused treatment – 09/03/11 Rarer Cancers Foundation
The report found that 360 patients have been denied access to life-extending cancer treatment in Scotland over the past three years and that nearly 2,500 patients have been forced to rely on exceptional case committees in order to secure access to the treatment recommended by their doctors. Figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Scotland’s 14 NHS boards. See the report: The Scottish Exception? An audit of the progress made in improving access to treatment for people with rarer cancers

Councils could face legal challenges over job cuts says UNISON – UNISON 08/03/11
On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, UNISON is warning that councils could face legal challenges over job cuts on equality grounds. An FOI request by the union reveals that 72% of councils did not complete equality impact assessments (EIA) over their initial redundancy proposals and 78% of councils did not complete EIAs on their final job loss plans.

Police forces cut thousands of hours in overtime – The Times 08/03/11 (subscription only)
Police forces across the country are cutting tens of thousands of hours in overtime, an investigation by The Times has found, as they battle to reduce their spending as budget cuts start to bite. The figures, obtained from a Freedom of Information request, come as the Government considers plans to cut millions from the police pay bill.

West Midlands planning money remains ‘unspent’ – BBC 07/02/11
Almost £70m of planning "gain" money remains unspent by councils in the West Midlands. Freedom of Information requests to all councils across the region revealed some of them had not spent money given to them by developers.

Hospitals’ cockroach kitchens – The Sunday Times 06/03/11 (subscription only)
Three out of four hospital kitchens in Britain have breached basic food hygiene standards, a damning investigation by The Sunday Times can reveal. Fewer than 200 hospital kitchens were given a clean bill of health in the inspection reports obtained under freedom of information rules.

Private Security Firms paid £29m last year for contracts in Afghanistan – The Guardian 06/03/11
New figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, confirm that a growing reliance on private firms is underpinning Britain's war effort.

Email Trail as England 2018 bid eyed royal ties with Qatar – BBC 05/03/11
The confidential emails on England’s World Cup bid obtained under freedom of information requests by the BBC contain fascinating insights into the sorts of deals and discussions that were going on in the run-up to last year’s vote in Zurich. See the emails in full here.

Postcode lottery for care fees of neediest – Which? 05/03/11
Those with the highest, most complex health needs are supposed to have their full care costs funded by the NHS, whatever their financial situation. But Which? research has discovered there are huge variations in care funding across the country. Using Freedom of Information requests and analysing government data, we found that 8 times as many people per 50,000 in Plymouth receive funding than in Essex.

Ofsted forced to reveal survey findings – TES 04/03/11
Ofsted has released the results of staff and student surveys carried out during an inspection for the first time. Despite publishing the data for one school following a teacher's request under the Freedom of Information Act, the watchdog says that it has no plans to make the survey results available routinely.

GPs are accused of using profits from commissioning to meet practice expenses – Health Service Journal (subscription only) reported in the BMJ 04/03/11
GPs have been accused of lining their own pockets by using the savings made from practice based commissioning to provide basic practice equipment. Freedom of Information requests revealed examples amounting to several millions of pounds among 50 primary care trusts, covering 650 general practices.

Centre for Sustainable Energy publishes full UK public building energy data – Centre for Sustainable Energy 02/03/11
CSE has published the full Display Energy Certificate (DEC) Register for all UK public buildings, making it publicly available in one place for the first time. The dataset includes the address, floorspace, heat and power consumption, carbon emissions, and energy efficiency rating of 40,000 sites. We obtained the data from the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Savings pressures mount on staff terms and conditions – Health Service Journal (subscription only) reported on Nursing Times 02/03/11
Documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show these cuts include £1.5m potential savings from freezing pay increments and £1m from decreasing annual leave by two-five days. Around £400,000 could also be saved from treating a bank holiday as a working day and a further £600,000 from reducing sickness entitlement.

The top 100 government suppliers – The Guardian 02/03/11
SA Mathieson used Freedom of Information requests as a way to gather information on government spending. All the 15 departments and organisations that were approached provided a list of their 100 largest suppliers.

PCTs slash GP out-of-hours spending – GP Online 03/03/11
A quarter of PCTs have cut spending on GP out-of-hours services since last year, a GP investigation reveals. Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 20 PCTs forecast savings of around £4 million in total on out-of-hours in 2010/11 compared with 2009/10 spending.

Leicester Mercury wins battle to learn facts about ex-MPs’ cash payouts – Leicester Mercury 26/02/11
The Leicester Mercury has won a victory that will force the House of Commons to reveal whether former MPs took "golden goodbye" payments worth up to £60,000. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Commons authorities were asked to provide a list of MPs who had drawn the grant, paid out of public funds.

Volunteers uncover £50 million in corporate funds to UK universities – Corporate Watch 24/02/11
People & Planet uncover £50 million from oil, arms and big pharma being channelled into UK universities. The Reclaim Research group conducted interviews and sent Freedom of Information requests to 17 universities and are starting to reveal the hidden connections between research and corporations at universities.

Britain ‘gave Gadaffi’ police firearms training – The Times (subscription only) 23/02/11
A three-week “command and control” course for senior officers took place in Tripoli in January 2009, which included “use of force and human rights, introduction to the conflict management model and command of spontaneous firearms operations”, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

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