Access to Information

COVID-19

We are now in the 2nd Surge of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the Health & Social Care is again experiencing unprecedented pressures.

As a Trust, our staff are prioritising their duties as front line health and social care workers.  Other duties within their role, such as investigating and responding requests for information, will be significantly delayed due to the need to prioritise professional caring duties and respond to the health crisis.  I would ask for your patience at this time.

Thank you

On this website we publish a lot of information about who we are and what we do.  However there may be things about the Trust and our business which you would like further information on.  In this part of our website we explain how you can get this information.

Privacy Advisory Committee

In 2002 the DHSSPSNI undertook a public consultation on protecting personal information in Health & Social Care bodies. This resulted in 14 recommendations designed to improve the way in which those bodies handle the personal information of service users.

One of the recommendations was that a Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC) should be established to take forward the implementation of the other recommendations.The PAC was established in 2006, its principal role is to advise HSC bodies about the use of information relating to patients and clients.

Read more about the Privacy Advisory Committee

*STAFF* Fair Processing Notice from Human Resources

The Trust processes personal data and sensitive personal data about its staff and this is used mainly for employment related purposes. Changes to the data protection regulations in respect of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has resulted in the need to draw your attention to a Fair Processing Notice from the Human Resources Directorate.  This Fair Processing Notice has been drawn up in line with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Privacy Notices Code of Practice, to assist the Trust to comply with data protection principles and legislation. It aims to make staff aware of how the Trust processes and uses your personal data.  Please access the Fair Processing Notice through the link below:

Fair Processing Notice – HR

Recruitment Guidance for those with Criminal & Conflict Related Convictions

ACNI applications and the Recruitment of people with criminal & conflict related convictions.
The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust aims to recruit the most suitable applicant(s) in line with the Trust’s Recruitment & Selection Procedures.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (NI) Order 1979 provides additional protection to vulnerable groups and applies to all posts within the Health and Social Care Services.

We actively promote equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential, and welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records. The Trust recognises the importance of ensuring that applicants who have been convicted or cautioned are treated fairly and given every opportunity to establish their suitability for positions with the Trust.

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust has guidance on the Recruitment of  People with Criminal Convictions. To access a copy of this guidance, please click here.

ACCESS NI APPLICATIONS

Before any appointment to a post can be confirmed, as part of the Recruitment and Selection process, it may be necessary for the Trust to carry out a check through Access N.I.

Where it is necessary to obtain an Access NI disclosure, the South Eastern HSC Trust operates in line with the Access NI Code of Practice, including the safe handling and secure storage of Access NI disclosures.

To access a copy of the Access NI Code of Practice, please click here.

To access a copy of the Trust’s Data Protection Policy Statement, click here.


  • Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000

    The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 makes it easier for you to get information about us. This law, which came into force on 1 January 2005, means that anyone, anywhere can ask for any information we hold.

    Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust is legally committed to providing timely and accessible information to the public and responding to reasonable requests for information.  There are no time limits on how far back you can gain access to information, as long as we hold it on record.

    Making an FOI enquiry

    All you have to do is submit your request in writing, by letter or email to any member of staff, stating clearly what information you want.

    Alternatively, you can make a request directly to the FOI Team who are responsible for dealing with any FOI enquiries that the Trust receives.

    Contact details:

    Information Governance Department
    Lough House
    Ards Hospital
    Church Street
    Newtownards
    BT23 4AS

    Email: informationgovernance@setrust.hscni.net

    Do not forget to provide your contact details so we can reply to your request.

    Responding to requests

    By law we have to deal with such requests within 20 working days. If you make a request and are not satisfied with the way in which we deal with it you may ask us to review any decision we make. If you wish us to undertake such a review you should write to the Reviewer, The Information Governance Department at the above address.

    Any review will normally be under the control and direction of a senior member of staff who had no involvement in the original decision or process.

    If you remain dissatisfied at the conclusion of any review you may complain to the Information Commissioner whose address is:

    The Information Commissioner’s Office
    3rd Floor
    14 Cromac Place,
    Belfast
    BT7 2JB

    Advice and Assistance

    If you would like any advice or assistance about making a request for information, please contact the Information Governance Department.

    Charges and Fees for information

    The Freedom of Information Act and the associated Fees Regulations stipulate that we cannot levy a fee for information unless there is a statutory basis for doing so or the amount of time taken to locate the information exceeds 18 hours. However we are allowed to charge for disbursements related to the provision of information and any reformatting requested by the applicant provided we ensure that applicants are aware of any charges which may be made.

    If you want any further information about the provision of information or have any difficulty accessing information provided on our website please contact:

    Information Governance Department
    Lough House
    Ards Hospital
    Church Street
    Newtownards
    BT23 4AS

    Email:  informationgovernance@setrust.hscni.net

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long does it take to get information?
    Once a written request for information is received, we have twenty working days to respond – although that time can be extended. We will contact you and explain why we might need to extend the time limit. It is also easier for us to help you access the information requested if you stipulate quite clearly what information you require. Make sure that you provide us with a name, address and contact telephone number.

    What happens if the information is not available?
    The FOI Act does not require us to gather information that is not already there. But we are required to assist you with your request and will contact you and tell you what information we do hold that might help to answer your enquiry, or we will suggest who you might contact for further help.

    What if I am refused information?
    We will tell you if information is being withheld and why. We will also advise you who to contact if you are not happy. You can contact the Northern Ireland Information Commissioner but you are required to contact us first to attempt to sort out the matter before contacting the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner will want to see proof of that before getting involved. So do get in touch with us if you are not happy and tell us why you believe we are wrongly withholding information from you. If you are not satisfied with our answer, please contact the Information Commissioner.

    Where can I get more information about the FOI Act?
    You can get more information about the FOI Act from the Northern Ireland Information Commissioner.

  • Data Protection Act 2018

    Maintaining the right of confidentiality is important for all Health & Social Care organisations. If you want to ask us for information which we may hold about you personally then this will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act 2018. This would include information relating to health and social care records, employment and training records – anything which is limited to you as a person whether as a patient, employee or partner of any kind.

    Find out how we process your information in the links below:

    Making a request for personal information

    Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 2018 you are allowed to ask the Trust for “personal data” held about yourself.

    If you wish to make an enquiry about data that relates to yourself, then please complete the form entitled ‘Application for Access to Health/Social Care Records’ which can be accessed by clicking here.

    Responding to requests

    When we receive your letter we may be in contact to clarify exactly what information you require and inform you of the charges there may be for supplying it.

    You will be asked to send us proof of identity – a copy of a formal document or bill with your name and address on it or your driving licence or passport.

    Once we have received all the necessary documentation we have one month under the Data Protection Act 2018 to provide the information requested – in exceptional circumstances some requests may require an additional two months to complete.  If information is withheld we will tell you why we are unable to disclose it.

    If you are unhappy with any aspect of the way in which we deal with your request, you may complain to:

    Trust’s Complaints Department, Information Commissioner or, if you feel we have failed to disclose information without good reason you may apply to a Court for disclosure.

  • Publications Scheme

    In order to comply with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 public sector organisations such as the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust have to routinely publish information whenever possible.

    We make this information available here on our website.  In order to help you find the information you require, it has been categorised into the seven categories in the dropdown menu above.  This is called a Publication Scheme. Members of the public who wish to make a formal request to the Trust under the Freedom of Information Act are advised to consult the Publication Scheme in the first instance for information that is already publicly available.

    The seven categories or classes of the Publication Scheme were defined by the Information Commissioner, who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Information Commissioner’s Definition document for NHS organisations sets out in some detail the information which is expected in each category.

    Accessing information which is not included in the Publication Scheme

    The Trust is committed to routinely publishing as much information as possible; however if there is information you want which is not available on our website, you may ask the Trust for it in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

    Requests for information should be emailed to: informationgovernance@setrust.hscni.net