How Requests are Handled
The Freedom of Information Act 1997 sets down strict time-limits for the processing of requests. These are as follows:
- Applications will be acknowledged within two weeks of receipt of a request.
- Applications will be replied to within four weeks of receipt of a request.
The hospital may extend the four week time-limit for replying to requests if:
- The request relates to a very large number of records.
- A large number of requests have been received from different applicants for the same records.
In the event of the hospital having to defer its reply on these grounds, applicants will receive notification before the end of the four week period. They will also be given the reasons for the delay.
If a request is granted, the applicant will be told in writing :
- That the request has been granted.
- The name of the person who granted the request.
- The day on which the decision was made.
- The format in which the record will be released.
- The fee for searches if applicable.
If a request is refused
If a request is refused, the applicant will be told in writing:
- That the request has been refused and the reasons for the refusal.
- The name of the person who decided to refuse the record
- The rights of review and appeal as set out below.
The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage interests of third parties or the public good known as the public interest. If the initial decision maker decides to withhold information the requester may submit a request to have the matter reviewed by the hospital's internal reviewer. In addition decisions about, delaying access to records, charges for searches and the form in which access is granted, may also be reviewed.
Requests for internal review must be submitted in writing within four weeks of the original decision. The request should be made to:
The Chief Executive Officer,
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital,
Tel: 01 803 2203 or 01 803 4756
Fax: 01 803 4792
The hospital must complete its internal review and notify the applicant within three weeks of receiving the request.
Note - An application for an internal review that is not completed within three weeks is deemed to be a refusal. The applicant can then proceed to review by the Information Commissioner without waiting for the hospital to communicate its decision
Review by the Information Commissioner
Following completion of the internal review, an applicant may seek an independent external review from the Information Commissioner.
Appeals To the Information Commissioner
Appeals to the Information Commissioner must be made in writing within six months and sent to the following address: -
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson, Dublin 2.
Teleplone: 01 678 5222
Fax: 01 661 0570
Note - The Information Commissioner will advise an applicant of their decision within four months.
Appeal to the High Court
A person affected by a decision of the Information Commissioner may make appeal to the High Court on a Point of Law only.
Note - No fees will be charged for personal records.
Fees may be charged as follows:
- For non-personal information, fees may be charged for the time spent in efficiently locating and copying records, based on the standard rates in operation at the time of the request. No fee may be levied for the cost of time involved in considering an application under the Act once the records have been retrieved.
- A deposit of 20% may be payable where the total fee is likely to exceed €40. In these circumstances the hospital must, if requested assist the applicant to amend the request so as to reduce or eliminate the amount of the deposit.
Charges may be waived in the following circumstances:
- Where the administrative cost of collecting the fee exceeds the amount to be charged.
- Where the information requested would be of particular assistance to the understanding of an issue of national importance.
The Decision Makers on FOI requests in the Mater Hospital are:
Director of Nursing and Corporate Affairs Manager
Clinical Support Manager
Consultant in Child and Family Psychiatry
Human Resource Manager
Freedom of Information Officer
Freedom of Information Internal-Reviewer
The Chief Executive Officer.
For further information and assistance in making a request, please contact:
The Freedom of Information Officer,
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital,
Telephone: 01 803 2982 or 01 803 2983
Fax: 01 803 2938