FOI disclosure stories April 6 – 12

Heath ordered MI5 to watch school rebels – The Times 12/04/09
“Confidential police and Whitehall papers released under the Freedom of Information Act show the official concern at the rise of subversive pupil groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thousands of boys and girls were recruited to the movement, leading to classroom strikes and violent protests. The Schools’ Action Union and the National Union of School Students appeared to threaten the British way of life, demanding an end to corporal punishment, the introduction of free dinners and, for the over-16s, contraception. Having seen left-wing students bring down the French Government, the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, was taking no risks and ordered MI5 to monitor the revolutionaries, who included boys from Eton and Harrow.”

Obese patients increasing costs for NHS trusts – Press Association 09/04/09
“Figures show that one in six NHS trusts have spent seven times more on obesity in the past three years as the demand for specialist equipment has increased.
 According to data obtained from 60 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act, obese patients having stomach surgery and the need for larger examination beds have caused costs for PCTs to rocket.”

Chaplains costing NHS £32m – 08/04/09
“Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found that NHS trusts across the UK were spending millions of pounds every year on religious services for patients. The NSS [National Secular Society] said the cash could better fund around 1,300 nurses or more than 2,500 cleaning staff, both of which were ‘much needed’.The organisation contacted acute and mental health trusts across the UK and received full responses from 233 trusts. Overall, trusts spent £26.72 million a year on paying clergy staff, with an average spend per chaplain of £48,953.”

See An investigation into the cost of the National Health Service’s Chaplaincy provision, National Secular Society

One million bank customers in limbo – The Times 07/04/09
“Nearly one million bank customers have had their claims for the return of sky-high bank charges put on hold since July 2007, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Statistics from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) reveal that nearly 973,000 complaints have been frozen by banks and building societies, since the start of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) test case on bank charges.”

Speaker had £150k jollies
– Daily and Sunday Express 07/04/09
“Commons Speaker Michael Martin was embroiled in a new expenses row last night over a string of jaunts to exotic destinations that cost taxpayers nearly £150,000. Documents released under Freedom of Information laws showed that the 63-year-old Glasgow North East MP and his wife Mary visited Hawaii, the Bahamas, New York and Rome. On every trip except one Mr Martin travelled first class or business class and clocked up more than 105,000 miles in 16 trips.”

Councils dish out £63m in bonuses – Channel 4 06/04/09
“More4 News obtains detailed figures on how much different councils paid in bonuses, by using the Freedom of Information Act. Local authorities spent more than £60m on bonuses for staff last year, with recipients ranging from electricians to executives… More4 News surveyed 325 council under the Freedom of Information act, and received 280 replies.” (This story compiles the top 20 individual bonuses paid, the top 20 total bonuses paid by individual councils and the full list of 100 councils that paid bonuses)

Health officials will reject requests to delete e-records on…
– ComputerWeekly 06/04/09
“The Department of Health says it cannot delete patient records on the Summary Care Records (SCRs) service once uploaded, because the cost would be prohibitive. Its reply to GP Neil Bhatia under the Freedom of Information Act means that even if patients change their minds about their summary health records being uploaded to a central database, their details will not be permanently removed.”


Valleys top anti-depressant table – BBC 07/04/09
“More anti-depressant drugs are being prescribed to patients in the south Wales valleys than anywhere else in England and Wales, new figures show. Seven of the ‘top 10’ areas for the drugs were in Wales, and the highest was Torfaen, with 104 prescriptions per 1,000 patients in January.”

120 Hampshire health bosses get redundancy settlements averaging £69,500 – Southern Daily Echo 06/04/09
“More than £8m of taxpayers’ money was spent on redundancies in a massive shake-up of health services across Hampshire, the Daily Echo can reveal. Around 120 senior managers took golden handshakes when seven primary care trusts were merged into one. One took as much as £130,000 to leave the NHS… That would be enough to pay for 1,091 heart bypasses, or 1,097 hip replacements, or 1,137 knee replacements, or 7,765 varicose vein procedures.”


Wind farm inquiry costs revealed – BBCi 10/04/09
“Wind farm public inquiries across the country have cost the Scottish Government a total of almost £70,000 over the last five years. The figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, include only money spent on venues and advertising. The most expensive event to be held was a conjoined hearing into four plans in Perth and Kinross which cost £17,515.”

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