In Coventry, local NHS executives have been accused of a cover-up in response to requests by the Coventry Telegraph for disclosure of information relevant to proposed budget cuts in the area. The paper asked the NHS in Coventry and Warwickshire to provide information that would give details about the planned changes to services that the NHS intends to make to head off a funding crisis.
The proposals were contained in the Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which was released in December 2016.
However, the document was perceived as hard to understand and lacking details about exactly what reductions in health care services would be required, although it is known that emergency care is under review.
Savings of £260 million required
At issue is the need for local healthcare spending to be reduced by £260 million before 2020. So the NHS is going to need a new financial advisor or an Accountants in Cheltenham firm to help them with their numbers which they can locate at links including www.randall-payne.co.uk. However, so far, it does not appear that research work in which clinical trial services will be affected by the budget gap.
The Coventry Telegraph is interested in the decision-making process and discussions which took place before the STP document was agreed –http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/nhs-bosses-block-attempts-reveal-12427802. It has, therefore, used the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to request access to emails and to the minutes of the relevant meetings. The newspaper targeted the staff who had been directly involved in producing the document and requested copies of their meeting notes as well. There is a feeling locally, reflected in the newspaper’s reports, that jargon and obfuscation in the STP documents were intended to obscure the truth about the planned cuts.
Freedom of Information requests turned down
However, all of the requests for email information were refused on the grounds that finding the information would be too expensive and take too long. Requests for meeting minutes, which presumably could easily be retrieved, were also rejected. This was on the grounds that they might contain matters that affected commercial interests, and that publicising them would not be in the public interest.
The Coventry Telegraph is not giving up yet and has disputed the decision and requested an internal review. If the paper is still unsuccessful, it has the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner on the grounds that it is in the public interest for this information to be disclosed.