Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence to/from the Health Secretary relating to deaths in care homes: FOI release

Published: 21 Jul 2021

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

Published:
21 Jul 2021
Correspondence to/from the Health Secretary relating to deaths in care homes: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100207405
Date received: 27 May 2021
Date responded: 20 Jul 2021
Information requested

Any correspondence copied to the health secretary, sent to the health secretary, or including the phrase "Cab Sec" on the topic of the publication of Covid-19 deaths in care homes broken down by individual care home between September 29, 2020 to 27 May 2021.

Response

Please find attached copies of most of the information you requested.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to a small amount of the information you have requested. This is because the information requested contains personal data of a third party, i.e. the names contact details and e-mail addresses of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

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.
Certain redactions are made because an exemption under sections 30(b)(i) (Free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (Free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to the information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to the letter.

ANNEX A
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies

An exemption under sections 30(b)(i) (Free and frank provision of advice) 30(b)(ii) (Free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This has been applied to detailed and free and frank discussions, as part of the handling of the release of the release of NRS data.

These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. In determining that this information is exempt, we have had regard to the need for officials to be able freely and frankly to consider how to handle the release of sensitive information appropriately. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on policy proposals and development options in relation to the release of sensitive data will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.

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 some public interest in release because of the general 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 free and frank advice and views to Ministers.

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality of communications) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege. 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 some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications about legal advice.

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 Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG