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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACTS 1997 & 2003
The Freedom of Information Acts 1997 & 2003 give you three legal rights:
These rights extend to your own personal records, and in specific circumstances, to those of your children and deceased relatives. There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released, e.g. to protect confidentiality. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained to you.
Click here to download our Guide to the Function and Records of the Hospital - Section 15 Reference Book.
Click here to download our Guide to the Function and Records of the Hospital - Section 16 Reference Book.
How does it work?
The Act requires bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. Public bodies must acknowledge receipt of requests within 2 weeks and give their decision on a request normally within 4 weeks of receiving it. Staff of Public bodies must also assist members of the public seeking access to information.
How to make an FOI request:
You must apply in writing to the FOI Office Mercy University Hospital stating that you are making a Freedom of Information request. You must provide sufficient information in order for the requested records to be identified e.g. your date of birth, current and previous addresses and approximate dates of attendance. You must specify the records required and the manner in which access is sought e.g. obtain photocopies, inspect the orginals. There will usually be no charge for copies of personal records, however, the hospital has the right to charge for photocopying if the quantity of records is very large. There is also a fee for copying X-ray films (see below).
Entitlements under the FOI Acts:
A wide range of non-personal information is available to the public in relation to the services of the Mercy University Hospital. This information is available via the web site (www.muh.ie) and information leaflets/publications.
If the non-personal information requested is not readily available, it will be necessary to apply under the Freedom of Information Acts and an application fee of €10 (medical card holder) or €15 (non card holders) must accompany this request.
Can I get access to any information that I seek?
Access to any official information held by the hospital can be sought under the Act. However, in order to allow the hospital business to be properly conducted and to comply with the requirements it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information. These exemptions are set out in the Act. Among the exemptions are:
While the hospital will seek to protect the privacy of individuals and information supplied in confidence, in certain circumstances it may be in the public interest to release such information.
What can I do if I am unhappy with a decision on my request, e.g. where access has been refused, deferred or only partially granted?
You may appeal the decision to the Internal Reviewer of the Hospital within 4 weeks of notification of decision. You may appeal to the Information Commissioner against the decision of the hospital's Internal Reviewer within 6 months of notification of decision. You may appeal to the High Court on a point of law only.
What can I do if I want my personal information amended?
The F.O.I. act gives you the right to ask to have anything on a record about you held by the hospital changed, if you believe it is - incorrect, incomplete or misleading. You should also provide any information which will support the changes you want. If you wish to view your amended record you will need to provide proof of identity. You may appeal the decision if you are not satisfied to the Internal Reviewer (within four weeks) or to the Information Commissioner (within six months).
Is it always necessary to make a F.O.I. request to get information from the hospital?
No- You may be able to obtain the information you require by other means such as:
Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts, 1997 and 2003, and of the relevant regulations, in certain cases a fee must be paid at the time of the making of a request or an appeal. This requirement to pay a fee came into force on 7 July 2003. Fees are not payable where the record(s) concerned contains or contain only personal information relating to the requester. If the fee is not paid the request/appeal is deemed not to have been made. However, in certain circumstances, no fee is payable or reduced fees may apply.
The details of when payment is necessary, and the rates of payment, are set out below:
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