Public Health Scotland (PHS) has today disclosed further information to comply with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) to respond to a request for information about the discharge of patients and their Covid-19 test status from hospitals to named care homes.
PHS originally declined to release the information to protect against the potential identification of individuals under FOISA exemptions relating to personal data. The information requested included the names, and by implication the addresses, of care homes and Covid-19 test status of residents.
An application to the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) for the non-disclosure decisions to be reviewed was subsequently submitted. During the course of the SIC’s investigation, PHS disclosed unredacted information relating to care homes with nine or more cases.
In considering the recent decision by the Scottish Information Comissioner (external website), PHS sought specialist advice and determined that a long enough period of time had now elapsed reducing the risks in relation to the impact of disclosure on individuals. The information has now been released to comply in full with the SIC decision. Please note that information relating to those care homes with five or less cases remains redacted.
PHS sought to apply a balance at all times, while risk assessing the likelihood and impact of the disclosure of this information. This is especially important as PHS has a duty to maintain patient confidentiality and its statistical disclosure control protocol while complying with law.