Public Sector: Info requests swamp NHS

NHS trusts have reported a steep increase in the number and complexity of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests they are receiving, resulting in a 'significant workload'.

A new report by the NHS Confederation adds that this trend is likely to continue 'as the public become increasingly familiar with the terms of the act, and in the run-up to the general election'.

One NHS trust described the complexity and time- span of some FOI requests as 'daunting', adding that some clinical staff were forced to use their personal time.

NHS organisations received an average of 173 FOI requests in 2008, with the largest number of requests coming from journalists. One trust reported a 400 per cent increase in the number of requests over 2008.

The report, Freedom of Information in the NHS, advises NHS trusts that providing information under FOI encourages trusts to learn from one another and to look at how they can improve their performance.

The report follows a survey of 163 NHS Confederation members carried out in November 2008.

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