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Introduction and guide to the scheme

The Freedom of Information Act is now in its fourth year of full operation and it has changed the landscape of access to official information across the whole of the public sector.

Under section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000036_en_1) the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust has a legal duty to adopt and maintain a publication scheme for the publication of information relating to the Trust. Publication Schemes facilitate the proactive release of information and play a crucial role in supporting and providing greater openness and transparency across the public sector. The approval of the all current schemes expired on 31 December 2008 and the Information Commissioners Office is refreshing its approach to proactive disclosure of information. In line with Section 20 of the Act, the Information Commissioner has approved a new Publication Scheme and which will be effective from 1 January 2009 and which the Trust aims to comply fully with.

This Publication Scheme is divided into seven classes and is a guide to the information that we routinely make available to the public. It is important to us that the scheme meets your needs and we have designed it so that you can easily find information about the Trust. We will review the Publication Scheme at regular intervals and monitor how it is operating.


Cost of Information

In this Publication Scheme, all the electronic information which is downloadable from our website is provided free of charge for personal use. Where information is only available in hardcopy we may charge you for the cost of copying and postage.

For those without Internet access, a single page printout from the website is available free of charge by post by contacting foi@niamb.co.uk

Requests for multiple printouts, or for archived copies of documents which are no longer accessible or available on the web, may attract a charge for retrieval, photocopy, postage, etc. We will let you know the cost and charges that will have to be paid in advance. Paid-for publications will be charged for as marked. Leaflets and brochures, such as those on services we offer to the public, will be provided free of charge.

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Copyright

The material available through this Publication Scheme is subject to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service copyright unless otherwise indicated. Unless expressly indicated on the material to the contrary, it may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium, provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading manner. Where any of the copyright items in this publication scheme are being re-published or copied to others, you must identify the source of the material and acknowledge the copyright status.

See under right of access to information where you wish to re-use information in this publication scheme for commercial gain. Permission to reproduce material does not extend to any material accessed through the publication scheme that is the copyright of third parties.You must obtain authorisation to reproduce such material from the copyright-holders concerned.

For guidance on a range of copyright issues, please see the Office of Public Sector Information website.

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Patient Confidentiality

Although we make available a large amount of information about the Trust through the Publication Scheme, the Freedom of Information Act does not change the right of patients to protection of their patient confidentiality in accordance with Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, the Data Protection Act, and at common law.

Maintaining the legal right to patient confidentiality continues to be an important commitment on our part. To help with this, we have appointed someone who is called a Caldicott Guardian (see responsibilities), and who has responsibility to ensure the protection of patient confidentiality throughout the Trust in accordance with your legal rights.

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Right of Access to Information

The Freedom of Information Act recognises that as a member of the public, you have the right to know how public services such as the Health Service are organised and run, how much they cost and how you can make complaints if you need to. You have the right to know which services are being provided, the targets that are being set, the standards of services that are expected and the results achieved.

We are also obliged to respond to requests about the information which it holds, and is recorded in any form, and the Act creates a right of access to that information. The rights to request and access this information are subject to some exemptions which the Trust has to take into consideration before deciding what information can be released.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you are also entitled to access your clinical/medical records or any other personal information held about you.

If you wish to make any requests under the above legislation please contact:

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

Telephone: 028 9040 0710
Fax: 028 9040 0910
Email:foi@niamb.co.uk

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Responsibilities

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service HSC Trust Caldicott Guardian is:

Dr David McManus
Medical Director
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

The Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998 is:

Mr Liam McIvor
Chief Executive
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

The person responsible for information security, data protection and freedom of information is:

Miss Sharon McCue
Director Of Finance / I.T.
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

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Contacts and Feedback

In the event of any difficulty in accessing any information in this publication scheme or should you require hard copies or paid-for publications please contact:

Miss Alison Vitty
Corporate Manager Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

Telephone: 028 9040 0710
Fax: 028 9040 0901
Email: foi@niamb.co.uk

Any questions, comments or complaints about this scheme should be sent in writing to:

Miss Alison Vitty
Corporate Manager Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
BELFAST
BT8 8SG

Telephone: 028 9040 0710
Fax: 028 9040 0901
Email: Alison.Vitty@nias.hscni.net