Scottish statistics body ordered to publish coronavirus care home death data

Written by PublicTechnology staff on 25 May 2021 in News
News

Regulator rules that information has been unlawfully withheld

 

Credit: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/DPA/Press Association Images

National Records of Scotland (NRS) has been told it must release Covid-19 death figures for care homes after the Scottish Information Commissioner ruled that the information had been unlawfully withheld and the figures were in the public interest.

NRS has published overall numbers of deaths in care homes but, according to a report in The Scotsman, the Scottish Information Commissioner has ruled it breached freedom of information legislation by refusing to release the number of confirmed and suspected Covid-19-related deaths in individual care homes in Scotland.

NRS first claimed the data was exempt from disclosure due to data-protection issues. This was rejected by the information commissioner on the basis that “‘personal data’ must relate to living individuals”.


Related content


NRS then attempted to block the release of information based on the possibility of the figures negatively impacting the commercial interests of care home operators. It also claimed release would risk the health and safety of care home staff and residents.

Both of those arguments were rejected by the information commissioner on the basis that they were flawed and speculative.

In the decision notice, the commissioner stated there was a “strong public interest” in the release of the information and failure to release it would constitute a “lack of transparency”.

The notice added that disclosure was important to “ensure that older people and their relatives have the necessary information to make an informed decision when choosing a care home or care home provider”.

NRS will now make the data available in line with the decision.

A spokesperson for the National Records of Scotland said: “Following review by the Scottish Information Commissioner of a freedom of information request to release data on individual care homes, NRS will make this data available in line with the original freedom of information request and the timeframe set out by the SIC”.

The release of the information is the result of a collaborative project by between The Scotsman, The Herald, DC Thomson and STV.

NRS is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government which, in addition to serving as a national archive, also oversees statistics and the country’s decennial nationwide census. Unlike England and Wales, the NRS has postponed this year’s scheduled population survey until 2022, on account of the pandemic. 

 

About the author

A version of this story first appeared on PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood

Tags

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Related Sponsored Articles

"The inflection point is here": how Covid is driving digital transformation in health
9 June 2021

It’s been one of the most challenging years for healthcare providers, but Salesforce sees lasting change from accelerated digital transformation

Stopping Cyber Attacks in Higher Education
19 April 2021

Higher Education institutions are some of the most consistently targeted organisations for cyberattacks. CrowdStrike explores the importance of the right cybersecurity measures.