Publication - FOI/EIR release

Medicinal use of cannabis-based products barriers on NHS prescriptions: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
4 Nov 2019
Medicinal use of cannabis-based products barriers on NHS prescriptions: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/19/01933/review
Date received: 8 Oct 2019
Date responded: 30 Oct 2019
Information requested

You asked for a copy of all recorded communications to and from the Scottish government regarding NHS England's review and report on "Barriers to accessing cannabis-based products for medicinal use on NHS prescriptions", including attachments to any emails.

 

Response

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.
In conducting my review, I have considered the circumstances of the case afresh, taking account of the points you have raised in your request for review. In accordance with review procedure, and with your clarification request in mind, I have reviewed all of the documentation that falls within the scope of your request.

You requested communications following publication of the report.
Two further documents (letters) were identified for release. These form the last two pages of the enclosed document group.

You requested a review on the use of exemption under the public interest test with clarification as to why public interest lies in upholding the exemption.
I recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However,

  • in the case of information withheld under Section 29(1)(b), there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers a private space within which policy positions can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy/decision-making process.
  • in the case of information withheld under Section 30(b), there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on the report by NHS England, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy/decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
  •  in the case of information withheld under Section 30(c), there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on the report by NHS England, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by the authors of the report. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy/decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA continues to apply to any personal information within these documents, and this remains redacted.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG