9 March, 2012 Leave a Comment
The Government has lost it’s appeal to the FOI Tribunal on the publication of the NHS “risk register” which documents the risks associated with the Health and Social Care Bill. The risk register, like any risk assessment, includes all outcomes which could happen beyond those with a minuscule likelihood of occurring.
I think that the Government will appeal against this ruling to the High Court – Under s.59 of the Freedom of Information Act the Government could now appeal to the High Court on a point of law. If permission to appeal is granted then the appeal (which would most likely be on multiple grounds) would be heard in the High Court. The final votes on the Health and Social Care Bill take place in around two weeks time. Any potential appeal would therefore push the publication of the risk register beyond that point.
John Healey, the previous Shadow Secretary of State for Health has been pushing for the release of this document in conjunction with Andy Burnham – the publication of the risk register would provide Labour with a significant political asset to attack the Health Bill in the final two weeks before it becomes law.
The Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Una O’Brien told the Tribunal that the publication would be:
“Insidious” because “you would not know what is not being raised” and that you would not know what was being toned down because of fears about how it might be “viewed externally”.
“Out of context I think my own judgement is they would lead to a very distorted and very speculative interpretation of risk.”
The Government has already published it’s impact assessment of the Health and Social Care Bill which can be found here.