The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) give individuals a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities in the United Kingdom and for it to be easily available. The intention is to ensure openness and accountability in public services. Dentists providing general dental services (GDS) or personal dental services (PDS) are listed as public authorities.
As a public authority, you must routinely publish information, respond to requests for information and adopt a publication scheme. Mostly the information that you need to publish will be covered by your patient information leaflet, which should be freely available. Publishing the relevant information on your practice website will help you demonstrate openness and accountability. You can, of course, also use FOIA/FOISA to request information from the PCO.
Dental care provided under private contract does not attract FOIA or FOISA obligations.
Key learning points
This advice provides an overview of the requirements that you must follow to meet relevant FOIA/FOISA requirements. It explains:
- The information you should include in your publication scheme and where to access the relevant model publication scheme, depending on where you work
- How to access the template guide to information for dentists
- The rights of individuals to obtain information and the timescales that you must work within
- The differences between freedom of information rules and data protection rules
- The exemptions that apply to you and how these remove the right to share certain information
- The charges that you can make for providing information.