Freedom of Information

What are Freedom of Information requests?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 gives you the right to access records held by Tallaght University Hospital (TUH). Such requests may be for personal or non-personal (i.e. corporate) records.

Requesting personal information

TUH is a Freedom of Information (FOI) body. As an FOI body, TUH welcomes requests for personal records. You may request, for example, the following items:

  • any records held by TUH relating to you personally, irrespective of when they were created
  • all other records created after 21 April 1998 (which is the commencement date of Freedom of Information legislation in Ireland)
  • any additional information which may be required to assist in the understanding of a current record

You have the right to have your personal records amended or deleted where the information is found to be incorrect or misleading. You also have the right to seek reasons for decisions that affect or have affected you.

Requesting non-personal information

As an FOI body, TUH welcomes requests for non-personal records. In general, these requests focus on corporate information. Where non-personal requests are made, the timeframe for acknowledgement and delivery is the same as requests for personal records.

How to make an FOI request

Your request must be in writing. In making your request, you are asked to:

  • state that you are making a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2014
  • provide as much information as possible about the records you seek to access
  • specify how you would like to receive these records (that is, whether you would like to receive them by post or by email)

Sending in your FOI request

Your request can be sent by post or by email. Here are the addresses you may use:

By postFOI Officer
Release of Information Department
Tallaght University Hospital
Tallaght
Dublin 24
D24 NR07
By emailROI@tuh.ie

Allowing somebody to access your records (personal information only) 

When making an FOI request, you may request that your records be send to a third party who you appoint (for example, a solicitor, health professional, family member, etc.). TUH will only give your records to someone else when it has your consent to do so. Requests should be made as outlined above but we must also receive a letter signed by you, stating that you give your consent to the release of the records to the named individual. We may contact you about the request to release your records to a third party if further information or clarification is required.

Identification (personal records only)

To gain access to personal information, you are required to provide proof of identity. This is requested to ensure that information is released to the correct person and sent to the correct postal or email address. Items of identification required are:

  • a copy of identification showing your full name and photograph (for example, your passport, driver’s licence, etc.)
  • proof of your address to which the materials will be sent (for example, the top of a utility bill showing both your name and your address) – this must be less than six months old

Do I need to provide identification for access to non-personal records?
No. As access is not sought into personal records, identification is not required

Timeframe

A decision on your request will usually be made within four weeks. This is where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays.

Acknowledgement of request

Receipt of your request will be acknowledged within ten working days (where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays). At this time, you will be advised as to when you may expect to receive a decision on your request.

Medical records of a deceased relative

When a patient dies, the next of kin or other family members may request access to the patient’s medical records. These requests are always dealt with by the Freedom of Information Officer (FOI). The FOI Officer will balance the patient’s right to confidentiality with the right of another person to be given that information in the public interest.

To access the medical records of a deceased relative, you must make the request in writing. You must provide the following information:

  • name of the deceased
  • his/her address
  • his/ her date of birth
  • his/her MRN number (if known)
  • copy of the deceased’s Death Certificate
  • proof of your relationship to the deceased person
  • proof of your own identify (see above)
  • proof of address to which the information is to be sent (see above)

Your request and the accompanying information should be sent to the following address:

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State and/or third parties. This means that there are specific circumstances where the requested information will not be released (for example, to protect confidentiality, etc.). If any of these exemptions are applied to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained to you when you receive the decision made about your request.Exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 

 Right to an internal review of initial decision

You may seek an internal review of the initial decision. This review will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff at TUH to the person who made the initial decision. Reasons for seeking an internal review include where you

  • are dissatisfied with the initial response (for example, refusal of information, form of access, charges, etc.) or
  • did not receive a reply within the specified four weeks dated from your initial request (this is known as a ‘deemed refusal’ and, where this occurs, you are allowed to proceed to an internal review)

A request for an internal review must be submitted within four weeks from the date of the initial decision to your request (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances). The FOI Appeals Officer reviewing the appeal must complete the review within three weeks (where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays). An internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).

The outcome of the internal review will be communicated to you within three weeks of receipt of your request to appeal.

Your request can be sent by post or by email. Here are the addresses you may use:

By postFOI Appeals Officer
Release of Information Department
Tallaght University Hospital
Tallaght
Dublin 24
D24 NR07
By emailROI@tuh.ie

The fee for an internal review under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is €30 (€10 for medical card holders and their dependents). No fee is charged for an internal review concerning access to personal records belonging to the requester.

Appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)

Once the internal review process has been completed, you may appeal the decision to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC). This appeal must be made within six months.

If you make an appeal, the OIC will investigate the matter fully and issue a fresh decision. You may send your request by post or online. Here are the addresses:

By postAppeals Office of the Information Commissioner
6 Earlsfort Terrace
Saint Kevin's
Dublin 2
D02 W773
Onlinewww.oic.ie

The fee for appeals to the OIC is set out under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. It is currently set at €50 (€15 for medical card holders and their dependents).

Fees applicable to FOI requests

The €15 application fee has been abolished. Fees may be charged, however, for the search, retrieval and copying of records requested. This process involves the following stages:

  • locating the broad set of records in which those requested may be found
  • identifying, extracting and assembling the particular records for examination

Please note that fees for the estimated cost of search, retrieval and copying of records will only be charged with respect to records being released. The current charges are €20 for each hour spent searching for, and retrieving, records. Photocopying is charged at €0.04 per sheet for records released.

Estimating the cost for search, retrieval and copying fees

Fees may be charged for the search, retrieval and copying of records. The following table sets out the bases upon which such fees are calculated.

HoursEstimateAction
Less than 5€100 or lessNo fees may be charged for search and retrieval or copying
Between 5 and 24€101-€500Search, retrieval and copying fees apply
Between 25 and 34€501-€700No more than €500 may be charged for search and retrieval or copying
More than 35More than €700The FOI Decision Maker will contact the requester to ask him/her to refine/amend the request to ensure that the search, retrieval and copying charges are below €700. If the requester refuses to refine/amend the request then the request may be refused under Section 27.12(iii) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014

In cases where search, retrieval and copying fees apply, TUH is obliged to charge the requester a deposit of at least 20% of the estimated cost.

Please note there is no fee charged for access to a personal record relating to yourself.

Accessing personal information without making a Freedom of Information request

You can make a request for your personal information without using the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Instead, you can make a request under data protection legislation (e.g. the GDPR, Data Protection Act 2018, etc.). This is called a ‘Data Subject Access Request (DSAR).’ To obtain information on making a DSAR, you may click here. 

Please note: This does not apply to requests for non-personal (i.e. corporate) information. These requests must be made under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.