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50% jump in FoI requests made to Department of Health

16 Jun 2016

Department of Health

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Unit in the Department of Health (DoH) processed almost 350 requests for information last year under the Freedom of Information Act, representing a 50 per cent increase on the previous year.

The increase has been put down to the removal of fees for non-personal requests, according to the Unit. Some 234 of these requests were responded to by the DOH.

Overall, some 70 per cent of the requests were from the media and this required close liaison between the FoI Unit, line units and the Press and Communications Office in the Department.

Meanwhile, the DoH’s Parliamentary Affairs Unit (PAU) responded to 8,025 Parliamentary Questions, of which 5,195 were referred to the HSE for direct reply. It also prepared 431 notes for Leaders Questions, and received 7,109 representations.

“In 2015 the staff of the Department prepared almost 3,500 replies to PQs (and another 4,200 were processed for direct reply by the HSE) and 5,300 responses to Ministerial representations. We prepared information for almost 600 topical issues and Seanad adjournments and more than 400 briefing notes for Leaders Questions. Some 234 Freedom of Information requests were responded to.

“Although not spread evenly across the Department’s 339 staff, that represents an average of almost 30 such activities per staff member, in addition to their other duties,” Hawkins House said.

Lloyd Mudiwa

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times