BBC and Unionist parties send over 400 FOI requests to Scottish NHS board

A Scottish NHS board has had to field over 400 separate Freedom of Information requests from the BBC and each of Holyrood’s three pro-Union parties.

Data obtained by Indyref2 shows that from January 2015 until January this year, NHS Orkney received a total of 418 separate Freedom of Information requests from the BBC, Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems combined.  On average the small NHS board fielded over eleven Freedom of Information requests each month, many of the requests will have contained multiple questions.

A breakdown of the figures reveals that in 2015 NHS Orkney fielded 135 FOI requests from the aforementioned four sources.  This grew to 140 in 2016 and dropped slightly to 131 last year.  In January this year the board has had to deal with 12 FOI requests.

A further breakdown reveals that in the three year period to January 2018, Scottish Labour submitted most requests at 175.  The Scottish Conservatives submitted 97 requests over the same period.  The BBC and the Scottish Lib Dems submitted 73 requests apiece.

If replicated across all fourteen NHS Boards in Scotland, then valuable NHS resource will have been spent addressing almost 6000 individual Freedom of Infrmation requests from Scotland’s Unionist opposition parties and the BBC.  The total cost to the NHS may never be known.

Indyref2 has requested the same figures from all fourteen of Scotland’s NHS Boards.  We will publish the results in due course.

[Indyref2 obtained the data using a Freedom of Information request of our own.  Mindfull of the need to minimise the time NHS officials spent addressing our request, we restricted it to simply asking for totals.  We did not ask the specifics of each request submitted by the BBC, Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems.]


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23 thoughts on “BBC and Unionist parties send over 400 FOI requests to Scottish NHS board

  1. gregor

    Staggering (and disturbing). The unionist alliance is waging war on our valued and cherished NHS, which does a fine job in challenging circumstances. How contemptuous and sinister can you get…

    1. gregor

      And thank you Indyref2 in your efforts to better inform the public – we appreciate your efforts.

  2. Luigi

    The FOI system was never intended for political purposes, to provide ammo for opposition parties. It has been completely abused by the British Nationalist parties and their BBC allies.

    Surely the legislation can be changed to stop this kind of abuse. Perhaps a small charge after three FOI requests will put a stop to this nonsense.

  3. David B

    Limit it to 1 x free request annually, then a fee of £5 for a second, doubling each subsequent request. So £10 for 3rd, £20 for 4th, £40 for 5th and so on. That should deter frivolity while keeping the principle in place.

  4. cj

    Charging won’t stop large parties and corporations only the public will be affected. FOISA is good practice. What should happen is a list of questions and answers sent to political parties should be published. For all to see what they were concerned about

    1. Clydebuilt

      Agreed “cj” . . . But they might as well have to cover the costs of their enquiries, so give them a reasonable/ small number free then charge the BBC etc the full amount to cover the NHS response.

  5. Jockanese Wind Talker

    FOIs are also the BritNat Broadcasting Corporations answer to ‘Investigative Journalism’.

    BritNats wasting valuable NHS resources in name of Political Point scoring should be a front page story in the press itself.

    All so they can push a Scottish Public Services are shite, EssEnnPeeBaaad cross Party BritNat line vocally trumpeted by The BBC.

    And that’s just the NHS so I imagine it will be the same for Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue.

    Absolutely disgraceful.

  6. Douglas

    This is a drain on the limited resources of a small Health Board. On the face of it this seems frivolous or lazy trawling (not trolling).

    I worked for NHS Orkney for many years. The population of Orkney is about 20,000 -to put this in perspective there are actually some GP practices on the mainland that are larger. NHS Orkney resources are therefore proportionately much less than large Health Boards but it is very valuable to have such local governance.

    NHS Orkney still have to fulfill the same statuary duties as larger Boards but do so with a very small HQ team. Any unnecessary extra requests are a drain.

    Orkney folk will always try to be helpful but this is disproportionate.

  7. Brian

    And then they annouce it as… “Reporting Scotland can reveal…” “Reporting Scotland has learned…” as if it was the result of fearless investigative reporting. What a sham, what a shower. They should hang their heads in shame.
    Makes me all the more determined to continue to get all my family and friends out to vote for the SNP at each at every elction.

  8. Charlie Stirling

    What is the average cost of responding to FOI requests by each party or news agency….would make better headlines if the costs were published…

  9. gregor

    It is abundantly clear…

    Essentially, those with unlimited resources and funds have better access to FOI’s.

    Under the current framework, the potential for exploitation is significant.

    The process is not fit-for-purpose and needs to be properly regulated ASAP.

  10. Alisdair

    Here is a thought, surely FOI requests should themselves be subject to FOI in as much as they should be submitted in full in the public sphere including the identity of the supplicant (term used advisedly in light of the way the BBC behaves)?

    1. Alasdair Macdonald

      This is a fair point. Since the information being sought is deemed to be ‘in the public interest’, then both the question and the response should be publiched on a generally accessible website.

    2. N Somerville

      My understanding is that there is no requirement to supply a name with an FoI request to protect members of the public who, for example, might be enquiring about their employer. Maybe this could be a requirement though for organisations like the BBC or political parties.

  11. twathater

    As others have posted FOI’S are being abused by the establishment , msm and unionist parties , the FOI was set up to allow greater transparency of institutions which is correct .
    But this constant abuse only serves to undermine the service , charges for institutions must be introduced to augment the expense of this service .

    As others have posted a free allocation of 2 or 3 per annum for private individuals with a sliding scale for more to ensure no abuse takes place , but the constant use of this facility to substitute real journalistic investigation by lazy arse so called reporters is shameful

  12. Toby Lerone

    Could so many multiple requests be defined as legally “vexatious” , thus allowing the boards to deny the request?

  13. Bob

    NHS boards should be referring this level of enquiries from one source to the Information Commissioner. If this was determined to be an abuse of the system the Commissioner could rule that they were not required to provide answers to abusers.

  14. Fiona Grahame

    Orkney NHS is a top performing service, this is totally bizarre that their resources are being wasted on hundreds of FOIs. More bizarre is the LibDems doing it who have controlled our islands beyond living memory. What are they doing? It is not to support NHS Orkney in the great work they do. I am shocked by this. Thank you for exposing it.

  15. Kenneth Mackenzie

    Why don’t you send an FOI request on the BBC to a random English NHS authority? Could be they send duplicate requests to every one in the UK. There are certainly lots of English NHS stories based on FOI replies on the BBC website.

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