View Working Together 2013 View Working Together 2013

2.5 Requests for Deceased Information

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed in August 2016 with information added on the circumstances for release of information.

Requests for personal information are usually processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998; however, the Data Protection Act only applies to living individuals. Unlike the Council, Health organisations would have different powers to allow access to deceased persons’ information (i.e. Access to Health Records Act 1990) however the Council would be required to consider a request for deceased persons’ information in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000. Any request for information should be forwarded to the contacts below as soon as possible.

The FOI Act obliges us to respond promptly and in any case no longer than 20 working days from receipt of the request, however, when an exemption applies to the information the FOI Act allows time for a response to be longer than 20 days and a full response must be provided in such time that is reasonable in all circumstances of the case.

As there are no special provisions within the FOI Act to deal with deceased persons’ records, any disclosure under the Act effectively means the information is released in to the public domain and not just to the person making the request. This is why we have to consider carefully if the information should be released or not because we cannot restrict access just to next of kin, family or agents acting on their behalf. We have to try to make a judgement on what would have been the deceased wishes and expectations on what would happen to the information held on their care file after their death, and who it would be shared with. There may also be in certain circumstances a public interest in the information being released. In all cases the Council has a duty to take into account the best interests of all those concerned. There may also be an opportunity to consider if it would be possible to release the information informally, but this can only be done after full consideration.┬áThese decisions can only be made on a case by case basis so that all circumstances surrounding the case can be taken into account before a final decision can be made.

Further information is available on the Council’s website.

If you have any queries regarding deceased persons’ information, please contact:

Sally Jansen
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Coordinator for Adult Social Care / Children and Families
Ext. 6824

Sharon Druett
Freedom of Information Officer
Ext. 3377

End