Publication - FOI/EIR release

NHS funded research projects: FOI review

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

Published:
9 Oct 2018
NHS funded research projects: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/18/01963 Review  
Date received: 11 September 2018  
Date responded: 9 October 2018
 
Information requested
 
1. “Last year you sent me details of the projects you have funded over the last several years. You sent me 6 files in all. I have attached the last one of the 6 “Data 6”. Please could you send be a new file Data 7 that updates the information I have to the latest information that you have available, so it should include the latest project that you have funded.

2. “I have a selection of Research Activity and Expenditure Reports and I understand from them that these are normally returned to you in May or June each year. Please could you send to me the 2017/2018 reports for each of the NHS Boards.

3. “Could you confirm how a project researching addiction would be classified: mental health or public health or NHS needs?”

4. “In these RA&E reports under Table 2b it states “For NRS Generic Support, describe how much funding has been recovered on posts through research grants or commercial activities.

i. Please can you help me because I do not understand what this means. It would help if you could give me an example.

ii. The amount in the Glasgow RA&E report states £4,705,679 for NRS Generic Support. To me the quote above suggests this is not money spent by the CSO but is money that external funders have provided to fund posts. Is this correct?
 
iii. If it is external funding then this amount seems to get included in your outturn report when the CSO is not actually spending it. Is that correct?

5. “In these RA&E reports under Table 2C it states provide:

i. A separate breakdown of individual posts and other costs together with details of grade of staff, FTE and expenditure against these. This should be able to be cross referenced with:

ii. A separate R&D management structure diagram together with a brief description of roles. Please could you send me this information for each NHS board.

6. “NRS Networks: with reference to the Cancer, Stroke, Children’s and Mental Health research networks what are their individual objectives please for each network and please provide information as to how you have measured performance against these objectives since inception.

7. “There is a long section in each RA&E report “Part D – Progress against objectives” across the 12 NHS Boards this is c. 150+ pages please could you send me the CSO board report for last year or high level information provided to the Head of the CSO and/or Chief Scientist reporting on performance by the different NHS boards and any minutes from these review meeting that might include action points for any under-performing metrics at the boards.
8. “If you have a latest 2017-2018 outturn report for the last year, please also forward it.”
 
Your Further Correspondence

Correspondence of 09 August 2018:

1. “With respect to Question 1, you are not providing information on your website in the format that I requested. For example here: https://www.cso.scot.nhs.uk/outputs/cso-funded-research/ are not showing the duration of the project. Please could you provide all the project information in the same format as Data 6 that you provided me with previously.

2. “You have sent me a spreadsheet with some numbers (Attachment 01) please could you send me individual reports as requested.

2b. “Without the reports it is difficult to tell but have you stopped reporting table 1d with spend by illnesses? I would like spend by illness please.

3. “I have searched for this and not found the information immediately to hand. Please can you tell me the date of the email when you provided this information.

4. “…Please could you answer my questions 4ii and 4iii with a yes or no answer. If you do not think that makes the answer clear then elaborate further.

5. “…You have sent me all the files but not all of them identify which NHS board the information comes from, please could you identify them.

6. “This is what I am looking for here:

i. What are the objectives of the 4 networks for the years ending 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
ii. How did the networks perform against these objectives. (If the objective was “10 and performance wads “7” or “11” that is what I want with narrative if the objective is qualitative).

Correspondence of 13 August 2018:

“I have reflected on this over the weekend. Although I cannot find the correspondence I am almost certain that you previously told me that addiction would be classified under mental health. The reason why I brought this up again is because I have met someone and they said “No sometimes it gets classified under public health” this is what put the doubt in my mind as to what was the case and why I asked you the same question again.

“On table 2b, please can you help me understand what it is. The RA&E report reads: “For NRS Generic Support, describe how much funding has been recovered from research grants or commercial activities.” This reads to me like it is external funding, used to fund NHS Board ‘activity’ (expense) and is not a payment from the CSO to the board. Is this correct? I would quite like to clear this up. So if you could get back to me on this point that would be great.”

Correspondence of 20 August 2018:

“…I have been looking over the information you have sent. Regarding the NHS Lothian management the R&D management document refers to a Medical and an R&D director but there is no line item for their costs on the matching xls that you sent me. Does this mean that these two positions are unpaid, or at least not paid by the CSO?”
Correspondence of 30 August 2018:

“…Please could you send me a list of eligible funders. Does your funding support any other funders than those on this list at the NHS boards? If so please list them.”
 
Response
 
Paul Gray, the Director General for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of NHS Scotland has asked me to conduct this review as I was not involved in the handling of your original request. I have looked at the request and review response afresh, alongside the subsequent correspondence you have had with the Chief Scientist’s Office on 9, 13, 20 & 30 August 2018. The purpose of the review was to establish whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, or whether a different decision should be substituted.
 
I have now completed my review in respect of FOISA request 18/01963. I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, subject to modification. Pursuant to request number 8 of that request, I enclose a copy of the Outturn Report for 2017/2018. I understand that this was withheld in accordance with the exemptions set out at s. 27(1) FOISA, “information intended for future publication”. I have determined that this information should be provided to you as the document requested is not yet publicly available and the planned publication date, previously communicated to you, has now passed.

In respect of the questions raised in your further correspondence of 09, 13, 20 and 30 August, relating to the above FOISA requests, I provide substantive responses to your questions below.
 
Your Question (1) 09 August 2018

“With respect to Question 1, you are not providing information on your website in the format that I requested. For example here: https://www.sco.scot.nhs.uk/outputs/cso-funded-research/tcs18/ you are not showing the duration of the project. Please could you provide all the project information in the same format as Data 6 that you provided me with previously.”

Response to your Question

Having reviewed the information provided to you I subsequently made enquiries as to the information that you were previously provided in “Data 1 - Data 6”. I understand that you have previously been advised, in the response to your review request of FoI/17/00696 that the information provided in the files Data 1 – Data 6 was provided outwith our requirements to provide information under FOISA.

In those data files, we provided you with information we held, at that time, in relation to the Chief Scientist’s Office (CSO) funded research projects, for the duration of your FOISA request. This information was provided in .csv format at your request. It was provided to you in a bespoke format as, at that time, the CSO was undertaking a project of work to make the information that is pro-actively published on its website more accessible. That project of work has now completed and detail of each of the proposals funded by the CSO can be found on the CSO website.

Every CSO funded proposal is assigned a unique identifier that identifies the committee that approved the funding, the year in which the funding was allocated and a unique number assigned to each proposal, for instance “TCS/18/01”. Where you require further information about a proposal or proposals, it is possible to make a request under FOISA for any further information that is held, but not proactively published by the CSO.

In relation to the point you raise about the duration of funded proposals, I have been advised that the duration of a proposal is not proactively published as relevant start and end dates are indicative only. As such, for funded proposals that have already commenced, a firm end-date may not yet be known. If you require further information about the duration of any completed proposals or the indicative duration of any ongoing proposals, you may make a FOISA request using the relevant unique identifiers.
 
Your Question (2) 09 August 2018

“You have sent me a spreadsheet with some numbers (Attachment 01) please could you send me individual reports as requested.”

Response to your question

Having reviewed the information that you have been provided with by way of response to this FoI request, I can confirm that we are not in a position to provide Research Activity andExpenditure Reports for 2017/18 in the same format as they were provided in 2016/17, as this information is not held.

As you were advised in the response you received on 09 August 2018, the reporting format was changed in 2017/18, and is expected to fully transition to a new format from 2018/19. As such, the information provided in Attachment 01 to the reply you received on 09 August 2018, constitutes the most recent research activity and expenditure information held by CSO in relation to ongoing funded research proposals.
 
Your Question (2b) 09 August 2018

“Without the reports it is difficult to tell but have you stopped reporting table 1d with spend by illnesses? I would like spend by illness please.”

Response to your question

The table referred to in your question relates to Table 1d of the Research Activity and Expenditure Reports (RA&E) that were submitted in 2016/17. As advised immediately above, RA&E reports for 2017/18 are not held in the same format; only outline information of financial expenditure has been provided by the relevant NHS boards. Accordingly, information in relation to that particular reporting table (spend by illness) is not held.

Further, you may also wish to note that the reporting information provided in that table in previous years’ RA&E reports was based on a health board’s own self-assessment of the investment of its research funding. The CSO does not direct research spend by illness in respect of its funding streams.

In FoI/18/02166, you asked for the CSO to provide the information it holds on research spend by illness, since you last asked the question. You were advised, by way of response (04 September 2018) that the information held had not substantively changed since you previously asked the question. As such, pursuant to s. 14(2) FOISA, a public authority is not required to comply with a request for information if it is identical or substantially similar to an information request that it has already complied with.
 
Your Question (3) 09 August 2018

“I have searched for this and not found the information immediately to hand. Please can you tell me the date of the email when you provided this information.”

Response to your question

This question relates to request number 3 of your original FOISA request. As advised at Annex A of the response you received to that request (09 August 2018), how a research proposal relating to addiction is classified, i.e. as a “public health” or as a “mental health” proposal, is a subjective assessment undertaken by the relevant health board. In previous years’ RA&E reports, where that information has been captured, the classification has been made by the reporting NHS health board. You have previously been provided with the relevant RA&E reports, complete with the guidance on completion that is provided to health boards.
 
Your Question (4) 09 August 2018

“…Please could you answer my questions 4ii and 4iii with a yes or no answer. If you do not think that makes the answer clear then elaborate further…”

Response to your question

This question relates to request number 4 of your original FOISA request. Having reviewed the information you were provided with in response to that request, I subsequently made enquiries as to the reporting of information at Table 2b in previous years’ RA&E reports. Boards were required, for NRS Generic Support, to provide detail of third-party funding income they had received through research grants and commercial activities, where a proportion of that income funded research posts. This question was asked to allow the CSO to verify expenditure against funding it had provided.

Questions 4ii and 4iii specifically concerned funding provided by NRS generic support to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC), as reported in its RA&E report, in particular how this funding is recorded both in the RA&E report, and in the CSO’s subsequent outturn report. I have made further investigations pursuant to the response you were given. I can confirm that the £4,705,609 figure quoted in your question relates to total expenditure by the board and includes both funding provided by the CSO and from other sources. This figure is not the figure that is reflected in the CSO outturn report. Separately, the report indicated that NHS GGC were allocated £4,689,000 in NRS Generic Support, which is reflected in the CSO outturn report for 2016/17 as a component of the total expenditure allocated to NHS GGC.
 
Your Question (5) 09 August 2018

“…You have sent me all the files but not all of them identify which NHS board the information comes from, please could you identify them.”

Response to your question

This question relates to request number 5 of your original FOISA request. In response to this request you were provided with a number of files in “Attachment 02” of the FoI response. I enclose a revised Attachment 02, in which the relevant files have been renamed that makes clear to which NHS Scotland health board they refer.
 
Your Question (6) 09 August 2018

“This is what I am looking for here:

i. What are the objectives of the 4 networks for the years ending 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

ii. How did the networks perform against these objectives. (If the objective was “10 and performance wads “7” or “11” that is what I want with narrative if the objective is qualitative).

Response to your question

This question relates to request number 6 of your original FOISA request. In response to this request you were provided with terms of reference for each of the relevant networks which set out the relevant objectives. In relation to the more specific question you have posed above, I have made further enquiries. The principal objectives for each of the 4 networks have remained substantively the same throughout the time period 2015-2018, as such this information has already been provided to you, insofar as you currently hold the most recent terms of reference for each of the 4 networks.

In your original request, you also asked how the networks were measured against those objectives. In response, you were provided with a reporting template that each of the networks provide annually to the CSO. In reviewing the FOISA response you received, I have made further enquiries in relation to the monitoring of the networks against their objectives. I understand that the information provided in the reporting template forms part of an on-going qualitative assessment of the networks’ performance against their objectives, but the networks are not subject to any formal benchmarking or grading exercise. As such, a written and recorded narrative account of performance, such as you describe in your question above, is not held.
 
Your Question (7) 13 August 2018

Your email of 13 August posed 2 questions covering: a) how an addiction proposal would be classified, and; b) the meaning of the sentence: “For NRS Generic Support, describe how much funding has been recovered from research grants or commercial activities.”Response to your Question Substantive replies to these questions are provided above under the sub-headings “Your Question (3)” and “Your Question (4)”.
 
Your Question (8) 20 August 2018

“…I have been looking over the information you have sent. Regarding the NHS Lothian management the R&D management document refers to a Medical and an R&D director but there is no line item for their costs on the matching xls that you sent me. Does this mean that these two positions are unpaid, or at least not paid by the CSO?”

Response to your Question

Having reviewed the information provided in your FOI response I have made further enquiries. In relation to the R&D management structure organograms that were provided as an attachment (Attachment 02) to the official reply you received on 09 August 2019, these set out the formal reporting and line-management structure within the board. Some of these posts will not be directly funded (in whole or in part) by research grant monies provided by the CSO, particularly where, as in the case of Medical Directors, post-holders perform other substantive functions within the employing health board.

Your Question (9) 30 August 2018

“…Please could you send me a list of eligible funders. Does your funding support any other funders than those on this list at the NHS boards? If so please list them.”

Response to your Question
 
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

foi-18-01963-review Attachment 1

15 page PDF
664.7 kB

foi-18-01963-review Attachment 2

30 page PDF
1.8 MB

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