19 January 2011
Department of Health ordered to release costs of flu vaccination
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered the Department of Health to disclose information relating to the costs of purchasing the variation of the flu vaccine that was in use in February 2010 as part of the ongoing vaccination programme.Today’s announcement follows an information request received by the Department of Health from a journalist asking for the costs of the development, distribution, promotion and purchasing of the vaccine which has been supplied by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Baxter Healthcare Ltd (Baxter) since 2007.While the majority of the request was complied with, the Department failed to provide information around the costs of purchasing the vaccine believing that the information would prejudice the commercial interests of the manufacturers, along with its own commercial interests, and those of other NHS bodies.
After careful consideration of the case the Commissioner has decided that the Department of Health should release the costs of purchasing the vaccine up to the time of the request, however they are not required to provide a detailed pricing breakdown for each manufacturer.
Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery at the ICO, said:
“The Department of Health must be transparent about the spending of public money at a time when public finances are under considerable scrutiny.
The information also relates to a public health issue of significant interest to the general public.
“We are however mindful that the manufacturers involved should not be penalised for working in partnership with the NHS and have therefore agreed that the Department was right to withhold information providing a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with both GSK and Baxter.”
The Department of Health has 35 calendar days from the date of the decision notice, to disclose this information, unless an appeal is served. The full decision notice can be viewed at:http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents ... 03047.ashx
If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070 or visit the website at: http://www.ico.gov.uk
Notes to Editors
The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides individuals or organisations with the right to request official information held by a public authority. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) provide access to environmental information. The ICO’s policy on enforcing public access to official information and the powers at its disposal are set out here