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Change of FoIA guidelines may endanger patients, campaigners warn

Health campaigners are fighting calls for lowering the cost limit of a FoIA request, The Telegraph reports.

As it stands, public authorities, including health trusts can only charge requesters if the cost of a reply exceeds £450. But the Foundation Trust Network wants to bring that down, raising serious questions about the safety of patients and accountability of trusts.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “This move could make it prohibitively expensive to obtain information through FOIs, which would not be in the interests of accountability of transparency.”

The FTN revealed its intentions during its submission to the recent inquiry into how the Freedom of Information Act is working. Its submission noted that the average cost of dealing with a request was £500, so bringing down the threshold would result in only the simplest and requests answered for free.

Ken Lownds, of the group Cure the NHS, set up in the wake of the nursing scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is already an absolute nightmare for patients or loved-ones to get information. This is designed to make it even more difficult. It is totally unacceptable.”

Thousands without a home in Oxford

Oxford council spent over £65,000 for emergency accommodation of people in danger of homelessness in 2011, the BBC reports. A Freedom of Information investigation has revealed the bill was four times as much as it was in 2010 and 6,000 people remain in the council’s housing waiting list.

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