Here you can find out about the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act, how to make a request for information, and how we will deal with your request.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives you the right to see information held by public organisations in the UK, including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We are open and accountable in our work and take our freedom of information responsibilities seriously. We welcome the rights of access set out in the Freedom of Information Act and publish a wide range of material about our activities, and on subjects in which we know there is a public interest.

For more information see our Publication Scheme.

How do I make a request?

If you can't find the information about us that you are looking for on our website or disclosure log, you can ask us for it by emailing us at:

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk

Or write to us at:

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London SW1P 4QP

When making your request, please include the following details:
  • your name and address (an email address will do),
  • the information or documents you want to look at, and
  • any preferences you have for the way you would like us to send the information to you (for example, hard copy or by email).

What happens after I make my request?

We aim to send you a reply as soon as possible and by the latest within 20 working days. We will either:

  • give you the information you've asked for,
  • let you know where you can find the information,
  • confirm that we don't hold the information, or
  • explain why we cannot give you the information.

Will I get the information I'm looking for?

Usually we will be able to provide you with the information you ask for. However, the Freedom of Information Act does contain a number of exemptions that allow public organisations to withhold certain types of information, such as personal data or sensitive commercial information, because the release of that information would be likely to cause harm or prejudice. As a publicly funded organisation, we are also able to turn down a request if, for example, it would be too costly for us to respond to because of the time it would take us to gather the information. We are also generally unable to provide information gathered during our investigations to the general public under the Freedom of Information Act.

If we cannot give you the information you are looking for, we will write to you and explain why. We will also let you know what to do next if you disagree with our decision.

Is there a fee?

No, requests under the Freedom of Information Act are free of charge. However, we may ask you to narrow the scope of your request if it would cost us more than £450 to respond.

More information

If you want to know more about the Freedom of Information Act, go to the Information Commissioner's website at www.ico.gov.uk

Data Protection

The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to see information that any organisation holds about you, including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. We are committed to keeping the information that we hold about complaints, including personal and sensitive information, safe and to process it fairly and lawfully.

How do I make a request for information that you hold about me?

If you would like to receive information that we hold about you or your complaint, you can ask us for it by emailing us at:

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk

Or write to us at:

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London SW1P 4QP

When making your request, please include the following details:
  • your name and postal address,
  • complaint case reference number (if you have a complaint with us),
  • the type of information or documents you want to look at (for example, you might ask to receive copies of notes of our telephone conversations with you or a case history setting out the progression of your complaint),
  • any preferences you have for the way you would like us to send the information to you (for example, hard copy or by email).

When will I hear from you about my request?

We aim to send you a reply as soon as possible, and by the latest within 40 calendar days.

Will I receive everything you hold about me?

If you ask us for your personal information, we will give you as much as we are able to. We are committed to transparency and accountability and want to provide you with as much information as possible, so that you can understand our processes and decisions.

The legislation that gives us our powers (the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967) says that all investigations must be carried out in private. We will not usually be able to give you all the information that we have gathered during the course of our investigation of your complaint.

The Data Protection Act also contains a number of other exemptions that allow certain types of information to be withheld (such as the personal data of other people, or legal advice), because the release of that information would be likely to cause harm, or affect our ability to do our work. For example, we would never be able to provide you with detailed information about someone else's complaint to us. Also, if we have gathered information about your complaint that was not relevant to our decision, we may not be able to release this to you. This is because of restrictions set out by the law that give us our powers.

What if I want to get copies of my medical records?

If you would like copies of your medical records, the easiest way is to ask your GP practice, optician, dentist or hospital for them. You can usually get your hospital records by writing to the hospital trust's health records manager or patient services manager. The records that we hold may not be complete.

More information

If you want to know more about your rights of access, please see the Information Commissioner's website at www.ico.gov.uk