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Freedom of Information

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (the Society) is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It is obliged to consider disclosure of information upon request; in taking a decision about disclosure it may use the exemptions provided in the Act.  As required by the Act, the Society has produced a publication scheme, outlining the kind of information it will voluntarily make available. The information included in its publication scheme is already available and requests for other information will be considered. More information is given below.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides, to any person upon written request, a general right of access to information held by a public authority. They have the right to be informed whether or not the authority is in possession of the information and, with certain exemptions, to have that information communicated to them. The Act obliges public authorities to provide and maintain a publication scheme which lays out the classes and subclasses of information that the authority will make available voluntarily. This scheme must give the terms under which the information will be provided, eg, whether or not there will be a charge for the information.

What this means: What the Society must do

What this means: What the Society must do

The Society has produced a publication scheme based on a model scheme developed by the Health Regulators Information Policy Group, which was approved in February 2004 by the Information Commissioner. The group agreed on five broad classes and subclasses of information in which material would be published. All of the information listed in the scheme is currently available. The Society has also set up internal procedures to ensure that the scheme is maintained and updated.

Any individual who makes a written request for information will be informed if the Society holds the information that they seek, and if appropriate the information will be provided to them. If we do not hold the information we will advise, where possible, on an alternative source. The Society will comply with the time limit set down in the Act of 20 days for responding to an enquiry. It will consider on a case-by-case basis the option of providing the information in a language other than English, and providing it in formats suitable for people with disabilities.

Anyone wishing to make a request for information from the Society should do so by contacting the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland in writing.

E-mails should be sent to:  info@psni.org.uk

Letters should be sent to:

The Director of Business Operations

Pharmaceutical Society NI

73 University Street

Belfast

BT7 1HL

The Society aims to disclose records wherever possible. Records that may be refused will be those containing information that is likely to be covered by the Act’s exemptions. These will include, but are not limited to:

  • Records where disclosure would be in breach of other legislation, eg, the Data Protection Act
  • Records containing commercially sensitive information, or information subject to legal or any other professional privilege
  • Records that are intended for later publication
  • Records whose disclosure might prejudice law enforcement.

The Society will also consider the resource implications of any request. Where the provision of information would require more than 2.5 days work, and/or where the cost exceeds £450, the Society will not disclose. This is in keeping with the Secretary of State’s Code of Practice.

If the Society has refused to release information, an enquirer has the right to appeal the decision. They must do so by writing to the Secretary and Registrar within 28 days of receiving the decision. If an individual is not satisfied with the response, they can make a complaint to the Society, and finally complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

MODEL PUBLICATION SCHEDULE FOR THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY NI

PART 1: The Publication Scheme

Introduction

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the FOI Act”), we will adopt and maintain a ‘publication scheme’ (“the Scheme”) so that information can be made available to the public.

The Scheme has been approved by the Information Commissioner and follows the standard format used by health regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom. The Scheme will be regularly reviewed.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (the Society) is the statutory regulatory body for pharmacists in Northern Ireland, established in 1925, and is constituted under the Pharmacy Northern Ireland Order 1976.

Objectives of the Society

The primary objective of the Society is to lead, regulate and develop the pharmacy profession. The Society has responsibility for a range of functions regulating pharmacy education and training, entry into the profession and maintenance of standards. The Society is responsible for dealing with poor performance, misconduct and removal from the Register.
The Society leads and supports the development of the profession in the public interest and promotes the profession’s policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different fora.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act was passed on 30 November 2000. It created a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It also sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

The Information Commissioner has a duty to promote best practice under the FOI Act and to ensure compliance. The Commissioner’s address is:
The Office of the Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Your rights to information under the FOI Act will come into force on 1 June 2006. From that date, with certain exemptions, the Society will be required to:

  • Let you know in writing or by e-mail if we hold the information you have asked for:
    and
  • Provide to you any information we have within 20 working days

We will also have a general duty to provide advice or assistance to you or to anyone seeking information (e.g. to explain what information is available or to clarify what you want to know).

Purpose and Structure of the Scheme

The purpose of the Scheme is to let you know what information is readily available from us.
By ‘readily available’ we mean information that is on our website, or that can be obtained from us by letter, fax or e-mail.

In creating and reviewing this Scheme, we have to consider the public interest when:

  • Allowing public access to the information we hold; and
  • Publicising the reasons for decisions that we make.

By law, our Scheme must:

  • Set out the classes of information that we publish or intend to publish;
  • Say how we will publish the information in each class; and
  • Say if we will provide the information free or charge for it.

The Scheme is in three parts:

  • Part 1 tells you about the Scheme
  • Part 2 sets out the classes or types of information that we publish or intend to publish.   It also contains a list of classes of information that will generally not be made available.
  • Part 3 is the Publications List, which tells you what information is published, how it can be obtained and whether it is free of charge

The Scheme is available on the Society website (www.psni.org.uk) or from the Society offices.

The purpose of the Scheme is to make information available before you need to ask for it.

Obtaining Information Under the Scheme

The Society routinely publishes information on its website. Most information provided in the scheme will be freely available for downloading from the website. Other information listed in this Scheme, which is not available from the website, will be available when requested in writing from the PSNI offices at the address given at the end of Part I

Like most organisations, the Society makes use of abbreviations on its documents and other records. We try to make sure such abbreviations are kept to a minimum. If necessary, we will provide an explanation of any abbreviations used.

Exempted Information

The FOI Act provides exemptions for certain classes of information. If the exemptions apply to the information you have requested you will be informed in writing. However, the Society is not obliged to confirm or deny if such information is held.

Charging for Information in the Scheme

Generally, access to information held by the Society will be free of charge. Single copies of any publication listed in Part 3 will normally be available free of charge from our website or from the Society’s offices.

Charges may be imposed for:

  • Producing multiple copies of specified information in paper or other format
  • Specified hard copy publications

Charges will reflect the staff time necessary to produce the information and any copying and postage. We will let you know these charges when you request the information and we will require payment in advance.

Charging Regimes

In the Publications List we indicate which of the following charging regimes could apply:

Free on Website (FOW)
There is no charge made by us for you downloading the information from the website, although the user will have to meet any charges made by the Internet Service Provider (“the ISP”) and/or telephone company as well as any personal costs for printing, etc.

Free of Charge Hard Copy (FOCHC)
Indicates that information will be provided in a hard copy format from the PSNI offices free of charge.

Chargeable Hard Copy (CHC)
Indicates information that is available from the Society offices on payment of a charge.

Copyright

Material made available through our scheme is subject to the Society’s or third party copyright.   Society information may be reproduced for personal or professional use only, in accordance with general Copyright Licensing Agency guidelines. Where information is reproduced, it must be reproduced accurately, not used in a misleading context and an appropriate acknowledgement must be inserted.

Permission to reproduce material does not extend to any material accessed through the Scheme that is in the copyright of third parties. You must obtain permission to reproduce such information from the copyright holder concerned.

Information made available under this Scheme must NOT be reproduced, copied or otherwise used for any commercial purposes.

Reviewing and Updating the Scheme

We will review our Scheme annually. New material will be added to the Publications List monthly and brought to the attention of users through the website.

Requests for Personal Information

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the DPA”), you already have a statutory right to have access to personal data we hold about you on computer or in a structured manual file (i.e. on paper). You also have the right to expect the Society, as the Data Controller, to ensure that data is:

  • Processed fairly and lawfully
  • Obtained for specific and lawful purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive for that purpose
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in accordance with your rights as the data subject
  • Kept secure
  • Not transferred abroad unless to countries with adequate data protection laws

For the purposes of the DPA:

  • “Personal data” is information that relates to a living identifiable person
  • “The Data Controller” is the person or organisation that controls the purpose and manner in which data is processed
  • “The Data Subject” is the person to whom the data relates

Where we are the Data Controller, and subject to certain exemptions (see below), you are entitled to be told whether we hold personal data about you and, if so:

  • To be given a description of the personal data in question
  • To be told for what purposes the personal data is processed
  • To be told the recipients, or classes of recipients, to whom the personal data is or may be disclosed
  • To be given a copy of any personal data held with any unintelligible terms, acronyms or codes explained
  • To be given any information available to us as to the source of the personal data

Exempted Information

As with the FOI Act, the DPA provides some exemptions to disclosure in relation to certain classes of information. If the exemptions apply to the information you have requested you will be informed in writing. However, the PSNI will not necessarily confirm or deny if such data is held about you.

Contact Details for Information Under the Freedom of Information Act or Under the Data Protection Act

Freedom of Information: Information listed under the Publication Scheme may be requested by letter, fax or e-mail.
Data Protection: A fee of £10 must accompany your request for personal data under the Data Protection Act. You will be required to supply proof of your identity. You may also be required to provide us with further information in order to allow us to locate the information that you seek. A request for access to personal data will be dealt within 40 days of receipt of the request and payment of the fee.

Overall responsibility for the Scheme resides in the Society’s Council. Day to day responsibility for the Scheme rests with the Director of Business Operations, requests for information under either act should be sent to:

Director of Business Operations
Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
73 University Street
Belfast BT71HL
Phone: 02890326927
Fax: 02890439919
E-Mail: info@psni.org.uk

Tell us what you think

We are committed to expanding the amount of information in this Publication Scheme and ensuring that you can find, request and receive the information easily. New information will be placed on the Scheme regularly. You will appreciate that reviewing and publishing material is in some cases a costly process and may take some time.

However, we will endeavour to ensure that our Scheme contains information that is of use to everyone interested in understanding more about the activities of the PSNI. If you have any comments on this Scheme please write to the Society’s offices at the address given above.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about the operation of the Scheme, or about the way in which your request for personal data has been dealt with, please write to the PSNI Complaints Office seeking resolution of your complaint.

The address to write to is:
Complaints Officer
Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
73 University Street
Belfast BT71HL

If you are not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may write to the Information
Commissioner, who is appointed to consider such complaints, at the address shown above.

PART 2: Classes of Information

Introduction

This Scheme aims to make as much of our information as possible readily accessible to the public, on a continuous basis. We are committed to releasing more material in the future.

The Society will make available information within the Information Classes described below.  Information falling into the classes below will be retained in accordance with our Data and Documents Retention Policy.

The Society has adopted a model Scheme developed nationally for all health regulatory bodies. The type of information provided through this Scheme by the Society will be similar to that available from other health regulatory bodies.

Under each Information Class can be found brief descriptions of the information available within the class.

Under each publication listed in the Publications List can be found:

  • The format in which the information is made available
  • “Notes” containing any relevant additional information
  • An indication as to any charge that may be made

Information Classes

We will publish information in the following classes, some of which may be chargeable (see Section 3):

Administration
  • Information relating to the administrative structure of the organisation
  • Information relating to finance and business planning
  • Information relating to employment
  • Information relating to the governance and work of the Council
Registration
  • Information relating to the Register
  • Information relating to requirements for registration
Education
 

  • Information relating to standards in education
  • Information relating to recognised qualifications
Fitness to Practice
  • Information relating to standards of conduct and competence
  • Information relating to investigations and Fitness to Practise proceedings
Communications
  • Specified publications produced by the organisation
  • Press Statements
Other Information
  • Any other information that does not relate to one of the other classes outlined above

 

Exempted Information

The following information will not normally be made available to the public:

Administration
  • Sensitive personal information relating to members of staff, Members of Council, visitors or advisors, including specific terms and conditions of employment and remuneration
  • Minutes of, and supporting papers relating to, matters discussed in closed sessions of Council, committee or working group meetings
  • Financial information relating to specific contracts or other commercially sensitive matters
Registration

• Sensitive personal information relating to applicants and
registrants, except where such disclosure is required by statute or has otherwise been previously notified to the data subject
• Any details of registrants where the Society has reason to believe that such information may be used for commercial
purposes

Education
  • Documentation relating to the recognition/approval or
    otherwise of individual qualifications or educational institutions
Fitness to Practise
  • Papers relating to preliminary investigations
  • Personal data relating to complainants
  • Any evidence adduced at a hearing before Statutory Committee, except where such material appears in the transcripts of such proceedings
All Classes
  • Any information subject to legal professional privilege, or other relevant privilege, for such period as the privilege remains active
  • Any other information that may be subject to exemption under the provisions of the FOI Act, subject to case by case consideration of individual requests
PART 3: Publications List

 

In this section are details of the information readily available from the PSNI, together with an indication as to how such information may be obtained and whether there is any charge. Availability and costs will be indicated using the following codes:

  • Free on Website (FOW). There is no charge made by us for downloading you the information from the website, although the user will have to meet any charges made by the ISP and/or telephone company as well as any personal costs for printing, etc.
  • Free of Charge Hard Copy (FOCHC) Indicates that information will be provided in a hard copy format from the PSNI office free of charge.
  • Chargeable Hard Copy (CHC) Indicates information that is available from the PSNI offices on payment of a charge.
Class  Sub-class  Title/Description  Notes  Availability
Administration

        

Staff  Staff List/Who Does What     List of PSNI staff and key responsibilities  FOCHC 
  Staff handbook    Policies on employee relations, equal opportunities,
training, health & safety, and
whistle-blowing 
CHC 
  Complaints vs.      
PSNI/Staff           
Procedure    
www.psni.org.uk complaints@psni.org.uk  FOCHC 
       
Finance  Financial statements/ Audited financial
statements. 
Available after
submission to Society AGM 
FOCHC 
Council    Members List                    List of members of the
PSNI Council 
FOCHC 
Complaints vs.      
PSNI/Staff           
Procedure    
www.psni.org.uk complaints@psni.org.uk  FOCHC 
Open Minutes and Agendas of Council                Minutes of open sessions of meetings of the Council   FOCHC 

 

Register of Council
Members’ Interests
 
Register of the Direct, Indirect and Non-Pecuniary
interests of members of
Council. Regularly updated.     
FOCHC 
Annual Report     Annual Review  produced by the PSNI.                      FOCHC 
 
Class  Sub-class  Title/Description  Notes  Availability 
Registration  Register              Published Register                   Hard Copy  CHC 

 

Registration Information Pack  Applicant Categories:
UKPre-Registration            
FOCHC 

 

Reciprocity arrangements      FOCHC 
 
Class  Sub-class  Title/Description  Notes  Availability 
Education   Approval Packs  An information pack detailing how to have a premises approved for preregistration training is available on demand. Lists of approved premises are available.  FOCHC 
 
Class  Sub-class  Title/Description  Notes  Availability 
Fitness to Practice Standards  Code of Ethics & conduct                             Includes
Guidance on legislation
and code of ethics and
standards and conduct and practice 
CHC 
Complaints  Complaints Statistics                In relation to
pharmacists/pharmacies        
FOCHC 
Statutory Committee  Date of meeting & brief summary of allegations to
be heard 
FOCHC 
Notices of findings    Name of individual and result of Inquiry  FOCHC 
Transcripts  Statutory committee transcripts
of proceedings available on request 
CHC 
Publication schedule   Publication of dates and brief summaries of allegations to be heard by
Statutory Committee. 
CHC 
Appeals  Notice that an appeal has been made to the High Court from a direction of Statutory Committee   CHC 
  Notices of Outcome of High Court Hearing findings  FOCHC 
 
Class  Sub-class  Title/Description  Notes  Availability 
Communications  Publications  External Newsletter     FOCHC 
Press releases    Press releases and Statements  FOCHC