FOI reference: FOI/17/01553
Date received: 8 August 2017
Date responded: 12 September 2017
Copies of any correspondence between Scottish Government ministers, officials or special advisers and Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board regarding Inverclyde Royal Hospital since August 2015.
Firstly, please accept our apologies for the lateness of this response; it has taken longer than originally envisaged to source and consider the relevant information. I attach a copy of some of the information you requested. 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 apply under sections 25(1) (information otherwise accessible) and 30(b)(ii) (the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA. The reasons why the exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An absolute exemption applies.
Section 25 of FOISA exempts information from disclosure where the requester can reasonably obtain the information without making a request for it. This is relevant to 'DOC 12' in this case; a link to the available information has been provided.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) applies to some of the information withheld. It is essential for Scottish Government officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, with stakeholders, such as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, on a range of issues, including the delivery of services from Inverclyde Royal Hospital.
Disclosing certain aspects of these communications is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. This would significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions.
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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate stakeholders, such as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, as part of the process of managing health services in Scotland, so that the Government reach decisions which are fully informed and likely to be effective. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House