Information

Minutes of meetings from cancer groups: FOI release

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


Information requested

All minutes of meetings from the following groups, which are held by the Scottish Government, since each was set up:

- The National Covid-19 Cancer Treatment Response Group
- The National Cancer Recovery Group
- The National Cancer Treatment Group

Response

I attach a copy of most of the information you requested as PDFs.

Some of the information you have requested is available from Cancer treatments Covid-19 Group minutes and guidance: FOI release - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

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 exemptions under sections 27 (1) (information intended for publication), 30(c) (effective conduct of public affairs), 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

This section allows public bodies to refrain from disclosing some information where there is a plan to publish that information in the next 12 weeks. Some data discussed during these meetings was made available prior to its publication. Where data has now been published, we have disclosed those figures, however I would like to clarify that when these data are discussed they have not been validated therefore could be slightly different from validated and published data. Where this is the case, the latter published data are the official figures.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This section outlines that information does not need to be disclosed if it will inhibit public bodies from performing their duties. This information relates to both the Scottish Government and the Health Boards and it is essential for these bodies to be able to collect all data for management purposes without outside interference. It is essential for officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, on a range of issues, including the number of cancer referrals and estimated available capacity across different treatments.

Disclosing this information is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future, and therefore significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out many aspects of its work.

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 the information relates to public behaviours and the impact of Covid-19 on presentation and capacity.

However, this is outweighed by the public interest due to the invalidated nature of the data which may cause unnecessary panic among the public. This data is used for management purposes and allows Health Boards to work alongside Government to ensure all patients are receiving equitable access to care across Scotland, especially over this past year throughout the pandemic.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This section prevents disclosure of personal information, such as names, of third parties. That means where there is personal information which is not your own, this exemption has been applied. Some information has been disclosed where one of the three conditions was not met.

For publication purposes - due to the size of the files we are unable to upload the documents referred to above. If you wish to consider, please contact us at the address below and we will be happy to provide them.

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

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