Publication - FOI/EIR release

Dilation and curettage procedures in NHS Boards: FOI release

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

Published:
29 Jun 2018
Dilation and curettage procedures in NHS Boards: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01336
Date received: 2 May 2018
Date responded: 8 June 2018

Information requested

All correspondence, memos and reports sent to/from the CMO's office in relation to D&C procedures since October 2 2017.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemption under sections s.25(1) (Information otherwise accessible), s.29(1)(a) (formulation of Government policy), s.30(b)(i), (free and frank provision of advice), s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views), s.38(1)(b) (personal data relating to third party) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

I enclose copies of some of the information you requested at Annex B.

Reasons for not providing information

Some exemption apply to your request.

Section 25(1) of FOISA – Information otherwise accessible.

Some of the information you have requested is available in the public domain, namely media lines on the story you refer to in your request. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

Section 29 of FOISA - Formulation or development of government policy.

An exemption under section s.29(1)(a) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on dilation and curettage procedures/surgical management of miscarriage will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

Section 30 of FOISA - Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views).

These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and free and frank exchange of views. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers, Special Advisers and senior officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on media lines about the story on dilation and curettage procedures/ surgical management of miscarriage at the time would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive issue.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, Special Advisers and senior officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on dilation and curettage procedures/ surgical management of miscarriage. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that well-informed 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA – Personal data relating to third party.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names, contact details of individuals and some data where numbers are lower than 5, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG