FOI Disclosure Stories July

OK, climate sceptics: here’s the raw data you wanted – New Scientist 28/07/07
Temperature records going back 150 years from 5113 weather stations around the world were yesterday released to the public by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The university were ordered to release data by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office following a freedom-of-information request for the raw data from researchers.
See the data here.

Cataracts, hips, knees and tonsils: NHS begins rationing operations – The Independent 28/07/11
Hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among operations now being rationed in a bid to save the NHS money. The alarming figures emerged from a survey of 111 PCTs by the health-service magazine GP, using the Freedom of Information Act.

Exclusive: Cameron breaks his Sure Start promise – New Statesman 27/07/11
27 centres have been closed since May 2010 despite Cameron’s promise to protect funding, according to information released after freedom of information requests were made by the New Statesman to the Department for Education.

Children and young people’s mental health services slashed by funding cuts – Young Minds 27/07/11
A survey of health trusts and councils has found that more than half have cut their budgets for children and young people’s mental health services for 2011/2012. A Freedom of Information request sent to 120 service providers and commissioners generated 55 responses, of which 29 said they would reduce spend in this area.

Ministry of Defence spends £1 billion on staff credit cards – The Telegraph 27/07/11
Over the past four years, the MoD spent £986,041,110 on department credit cards, far more than any other government body according to a data released by the Cabinet Office following freedom of information request. The disclosure will add to concerns over the management of the ministry, which is grappling with a multi-billion pound black hole in its finances.

Children endure seven-month wait for wheelchairs – Children & Young People Now 26/07/11
Hundreds of disabled children are being forced to wait more than seven months to be assessed and provided with the mobility equipment they need, an investigation by CYP Now has revealed through figures obtained from freedom of information requests sent to all 151 primary care trusts, and answered in full by 40 areas.

Substandard care linked to maternal deaths in London – BBC 25/07/11
Panorama used Freedom of Information requests to survey the provision of maternity services across the UK. The findings reveal that maternity units temporarily closed their doors to new admissions 1055 times in 2010, resulting in at least 927 women needing to be transferred to other maternity units.

Fifth of patients left in learning disability hospitals for five years – Community Care 19/07/11
Nearly one in five people in learning disability hospitals such as Winterbourne View have been there for more than five years. Information gathered under the Freedom of Information Act from 32 primary care trusts, covering 247 patients, showed 18% had been in hospitals for five years or more and 3% had been resident for more than 10.

The Arbroath Schools review: the scandal of the public opinion surveys – For Argyll 18/07/11
Angus Council consulted the public on merging two schools into one new school through two surveys. An FOI request was issued for a breakdown of the survey results. The data released showed both of these surveys to have been profoundly manipulated. In the first survey it emerged that 399 (57.4%) of the responses had come from the same IP address, effectively the same computer and most likely the same individual.

Call for councils to remove £1bn in pension funds from tobacco firms – The Guardian 17/07/11
Doctors have claimed that councils are profiting from deaths through smoking by investing tens of millions of pounds of their pension funds in tobacco firms. They have spoken out after freedom of information requests by a health campaigner in the south-west of England revealed that seven local authorities in that region have made investments of £103.8m.

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