FOI Disclosure Stories 13 – 19 July 2009

UK Government invites human rights abusers to arms fair – Ekklesia 16/07/09
“Countries involved in conflict or internal suppression or having a record of human rights abuse have been invited to the London arms fair by the UK government. The list of invited countries was released after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)… Of the 53 countries, plus the United Nations (UN), who have been invited to attend Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) in September, at least 15 have serious conflict and human rights concerns or urgent development needs.”

Huge rise in antibiotic incentive schemes – Pulse 15/07/09
“Half of PCTs are now running incentive schemes to cut GP antibiotic prescribing rates- with 40% of them set up in the past year – as trusts desperately try to tackle rising rates of antimicrobial resistance, a Pulse investigation has found… Responses to a Freedom of Information request from 116 English PCTs reveal that 56, or 48%, have such schemes with 40% set up in the past year as a direct response to concerns about rising antibiotic resistance.”

Prison drug seizures rise by 50 per cent – Channel 4 14/07/09
“Ministers say they are winning the battle against drugs in prisons. But Channel 4 News can reveal figures showing that more drugs are being seized from inmates. A Freedom of Information request for More 4 News shows that drug seizures from prisoners went up almost 50 per cent over the last five years. The rise comes despite a host of new initiatives that have succeeded in stopping drugs being brought into jails by visitors.”

Hospitals moving patients to hit four-hour A&E targets – Nursing Times 14/07/09
“Hospitals are routinely moving large number of patients from their A&E departments in the last few minutes of the four-hour target time for treatment in emergency departments, Freedom of Information figures have revealed. More than 20% of patients left the A&E department where they were being treated in the last 20 minutes of the target time at five hospitals, and more than 15% of patients were moved out of A&E at the last minute in 20 hospitals. The figures, revealed through FoI requests from the Liberal Democrats, show that 16 hospitals had a higher spike in last minute A&E discharge activity than Mid Staffordshire Hospital.”

‘Political club’ numbers 29,000 – BBC 13/07/09
“The number of politicians and their advisers on the UK public payroll now tops 29,000, BBC research has found. The figure includes councillors, MPs, peers, MEPs, members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies and their staff. Their total cost is estimated at more than £499m for the year 2007/8. The figures, from Freedom of Information requests for BBC Radio 4’s The Political Club, suggests numbers have increased 10-fold in 30 years.”


KCC staff ‘sell’ leave – for half a million pounds
– Kent Messenger 15/07/09
Kent County Council staff sold more than 3,700 days of their holiday back to the authority last year at a cost of more than half a million pounds. A total of 660 employees exercised their right to sell untaken holiday time between April 2008 and March 2009. KCC says the leave sold – which is provided to employees as a lump sum and is not pensionable – was valued at £531,205.
Over the same period, 227 county council staff also “bought” 1,360 days extra leave on top of their usual holiday entitlement, costing them £171,971…The details of the buying and selling of leave were disclosed to the KM Group under the Freedom of Information Act. It follows our revelation that KCC chief executive Peter Gilroy had sold part of his leave entitlement for nearly £12,000 last year.

Assembly officials’ £700,000 credit cards bills – Wales Online 13/07/09
“Credit card bills totalling more than £700,000 in a year have been run up by Assembly Government officials working abroad, it was revealed tonight. Information obtained by the Welsh Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed what the party described as ‘a culture of shocking spending excess’ within the administration’s international offices… Figures showed that 34 Assembly Government credit card holders, working in offices around the world on behalf of the Welsh taxpayer, spent a total of £718,434.17 over the past 12 months.”


New wing at Fife’s Victoria Hospital to cost £520m – Dunfermline Press 16/07/09
“NHS Fife will be paying over £17 million a year for 30 years – a total of almost £520 million – for the new PPP Victoria Hospital wing in Kirkcaldy. The Press obtained the sky-high figures for the annual payback – described as ‘value for money’ – through a freedom of information request. With the whole project for the new build priced at £170 million, it means the health board will be paying back over three times the actual cost of the work.”

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