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Charges for information

Introduction

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s (Health Board) Information Request Charging Regime aims to set out the fees and disbursements which can be charged by public authorities for access to information and how they should be calculated. If an individual wishes to make a request for information about themselves, then it must be dealt with in accordance with the GDPR 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018. Alternatively, if a request is made for access to a deceased health record, then this will be dealt with in accordance with the Access to Health Records Act 1990. Any requests for access to information concerning the environment must be dealt with in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Alternatively, if the request is for any other information held by or on behalf of the Health Board, then it will be dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Should a request for information attract a fee, the Health Board, under it’s obligation in the Disability Discrimination Act (2005), Race Relation (Amendment) Act 2001 and forthcoming legislation on equality strands, will attempt to help applicants understand or access the information required in different formats. The Health Board agrees to discuss the requirement of the applicant on a case by case basis.

General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 Fees

Under the above data protection legislation, individuals have a general right of access to personal information which relates to them. This is known as a ‘Subject Access Request’. For example, this may be a request for information relating to employment history or a request for access to medical records. There is no fee for this type of request.

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Fees

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) gives individuals the right to access recorded information held by a public authority. These requests will arise from two main sources, through the Health Board’s Publication Scheme or through general rights of access. Requests through general rights of access must be dealt with within 20 working days from receipt of the request.

The Health Board intends to provide as much information as possible free of charge. However, if a request is particularly complex or voluminous, or has a commercial implication, the Health Board will request a fee in accordance with the Fees Regulations, which have been issued by the Department of Constitutional Affairs.

The FOI Act contains provision for the Health Board to make charges when responding to a request which costs over £450. The Act also contains provisions for the Health Board to refuse a request should the cost of the request exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450.

The Health Board can charge for the reasonable costs it expects to incur in:

  • contacting the applicant to inform them the requested information is held (even if the information will not be provided), and
  • communicating the information to the applicant.

This includes, but is not limited to, the costs of:

  • reproducing any document containing the information e.g. printing or photocopying;
  • postage and other forms of transmitting the information; and
  • complying with section 11 FOIA where the applicant has expressed a preference for the means

The Publication Scheme

The Publication Scheme sets out the classes of information the Health Board has available, how it makes the information available and any charges issued for such information. Generally information available through the Publication Scheme will be free of charge, although the Health Board may charge if the information is required in a hard copy or to be copied onto a different type of media (e.g. CD Rom)

The charges will vary according to how information is available:

  • information on the Health Board’s website is free of charge, although any charges for Internet Service Provider and personal printing costs would have to be met by the individual;
  • for those without internet access, a single print-out as on the website would be available by post. However, requests for multiple printouts, or for archived copies of documents which are no longer accessible or available on the website, may attract a charge for the retrieval, photocopy and postage [see standard charges outlined above];
  • leaflets and brochures the Health Board hold are normally free of charge;
  • email will be free of charge, unless otherwise stated.

Environmental Information Regulations Fees

Under the Environmental Information Regulations, the Health Board can charge a “reasonable fee” for complying with a request, therefore the full cost of retrieving and providing the information can be recovered. Unlike the FOI Act, there is no appropriate cost limit and all requests must be dealt with regardless of cost unless an exception applies. (See Freedom of Information Act Fees above)

Copyright

Some of the information supplied under the Freedom of Information Act will be subject to copyright protection under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. Unless expressly indicated on the material to the contrary, it may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium, provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading manner. Where any of the copyright items are being re-published or copied to others, applicants must identify the source of the material and acknowledge the copyright status. Failure to obtain permission may result in an infringement of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. Permission to reproduce material does not extend to any material that is the copyright of third parties. You must obtain authorisation to reproduce such material from the copyright holders concerned.

Payments

If a fee is applicable, a fees notice will be issued to the applicant stating the exact fee before any costs are incurred in preparing to communicate the response. All fee notices will advise applicants to make their cheque or postal order payable to ‘Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’.

Refunds

Care will be taken to ensure estimating fees are as accurate as possible. If the actual cost is lower than the amount charged, the Health Board will refund the excess amount if it is greater than £5.00.