FOI Disclosure Stories March 13-24

Patients died following delay in treatment – Lancashire Evening Post 23/03/11
In one incident, ambulance crew lost a patient for almost five hours while transporting them to hospital. The patient was found in the vehicle in the ambulance station garage at midnight. The findings were revealed by the North West Ambulance Service, following a Freedom of Information request about the number of Serious Untoward Incidents (SUIs) recorded.

GP reforms’ leaders on boards of private firms – Pulse 23/03/11
One GP in 10 on the boards of new commissioning consortia also holds an executive-level position with a private provider, exposing the serious potential for conflict of interest in the Government’s NHS reforms according to data released by PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act.

Doctor ‘enraged’ by £3.5m bill for consultants over 30 months – The Sentinel 23/03/11
A GP has clashed with leaders of a health trust after revealing they spent £3.5 million on private consultancy fees in 30 months. Dr Sunil Angris told North Staffordshie Primary Care Turst directors that fellow doctors and healthcare professionals were “shocked, alarmed and enraged” by the sum, which he obtained using a Freedom of Information request.

Royal Mail send 25 million items a year to the shredder – Daily Mail 21/03/11
Royal Mail has admitted it destroys an average 25 million letters, packets and parcels every year. The company has destroyed 152million items of post that could not be delivered or returned to sender in the last six years, according to figures obtained following a Freedom of Information request.

Haringey Young People’s Counselling Service axed by Haringey Council – Haringey Independent 17/03/11
A counselling service for young people will close in two weeks as a result of budget cuts, Haringey Council has confirmed. The Haringey Young People’s Counselling Service provides one-on-one therapy to vulnerable teenagers, but will be axed after the council cut the youth services budget by 75 per cent. This was revealed in a freedom of information request by members of pressure group Save Haringey Youth Service.

Neurology ‘lottery’ as costs vary 10-fold – Pulse 16/03/11
GP commissioning consortia will inherit an ‘idiosyncratic’ postcode lottery for neurology services from PCTs. Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act suggests the price trusts were paying for new consultant outpatient appointments for neurology in 2009 varied from £67 to £592.

English football’s tax debt was £22m ‘at low eb’ in 2010 – Sporting Intelligence 15/03/11
Clubs from the Premier League owe millions of pounds in tax payments, including VAT, despite being rich enough to pay player’s salaries that run into six figures per week in some cases, according to findings from a Freedom of Information inquiry.

Green spaces sell-off? Bristol City Council has no plan B – Bristol Evening Post 15/03/11
Bristol City Council has never looked at ways of paying for the £87 million parks improvement plan that didn’t involve selling off green spaces. The council has repeatedly stated a plan based around developers’ money would not be enough. But following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the authority has been forced to admit it has never actually looked at the detail of such a plan.

Pledges to protect ‘frontline’ officers worthless because no definition exists – Western Morning News 15/03/11
Freedom of Information Act requests have confirmed that neither the Home Office, or Devon and Cornwall Police, actually know what a “frontline”officer is. Neither said theyhad definitions for the role, although the Home Office said it was under “consideration”.

Troubles team is accused of bias – Newsletter 15/03/11
A recent freedom of information release has revealed that all but one of the 71 Historical Enquiries Team arrests have been loyalists, leading the Lagan Valley MLA to warn of “considerable unrest” if the continuing peace process “does not recognise that the majority of killings were carried out by the Provisional IRA”.

Travel insurers cash in on NHS – The Sunday Times 13/03/11
Travel insurers that pay out on medical claims have pocketed nearly £4.8m from the NHS since 2005. The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request by The Sunday Times.

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