FOI Friday: Crumbling hospitals, pension funds, foreign patients and stolen monkeys

Crumbling hospitals (Press and Journal)

The Press and Journal in Aberdeen reports on how it has forced the local NHS authority to reveal the maintainance backlog at hospitals and health centres in its area. The backlog was first reported last month, but NHS Grampian refused to release the exact details. So the P&J turned to FOI to get it.

How council pension schemes invest their funds (The Observer)

The Guardian reports on a row brewing over the fact that public sector pension funds are investing millions of pounds in tobacco firms by buying shares in them. Doctors in the south west say the funds are effectively profiting from death.  A little full on maybe, but the information emerged through FOI, and it may be worth asking other councils for details of the companies their pension schemes invest in.

Confidential council files lost on laptop (Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

The FOI about the number of data protection breaches at hospital trusts and police forces is well documented, but applying it to councils can generate some strong leads too. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports on how confidential files containing details of 25 people – including names, addresses and health needs – were on a stolen laptop. In another case, a person’s name, address, date of birth and phone number were faxed to the wrong number.

Abuse by carers (BBC)

More on the FOI we covered the other week regarding abuse against elderly people by carers employed to look after them. The BBC in Shropshire reports on 300 cases of reports of abuse by paid carers – presumably paid carers can be people looking after anyone receiving paid care by the council – in the last year. The councils say the rise is due to better awareness of how to complain.

Parking tickets – and your chances of getting them overturned (Kent Online)

A slightly different take on the perennial favourite of parking fines. As well as getting the list of the most ticketed streets, this article also includes the percentage of tickets which are overturned in each area, making for a good ‘your chance of overturning a ticket’ feature.

Foreign patients owe hospital £170,000 (Northants Evening Telegraph)

Kettering General Hospital has revealed how it is owed £170,000 from foreign patients who received treatment on the NHS while in this country, but who should have paid for it under NHS rules. Presumably, this is an issue which is reflected across the country, depending on influx of tourists and so on.

The crimes which go uninvestigated (Sheffield Star)

There have been a few stories in recent months based on the FOI which asks police to reveal the number of crimes which are reported to them which they don’t actually investigate. A lot of forces call this process ‘screening.’ The Sheffield Star has taken the story to a new level by asking for a breakdown of crimes ‘screened out’ in each of the towns and cities it covers, and also what the crimes screened out were, by category. They also asked for the figures from 2006 to give a comparison. The results are impressive –  showing both sides of the story.

Thefts of animals (Teesdale Mercury)

Whenever I see the name Teesdale I always imagine the sleepy countryside along the A66 in Country Durham. But there’s a crimewave afoot- the theft of animals. Monkeys, dogs, pigeons and chickens have all been reported stolen in South Durham over the past few years – a total of 430 cases since 2006.

Thefts of farm animals (Lancashire Evening Post)

The Lancashire Evening Post reports on a Farmers Guardian FOI investigation into thefts from farms of animals over the last year. Although saying ‘the number of sheep thefts soared from seven to 12’ feels to be overegging it a bit, the police say that cattle rustling in general is rising – a strange side effect of tougher economic times?

The return of the OAP crimewave (Birmingham Mail)

This FOI really is the gift that keeps on giving. The Birmingham Mail has used FOI to get details of the crimes committed by pensioners in the West Midlands. Highlights include two 85-year-old women arrested for assault, a 94-year-old man arrested for sexual offences and an 87-year-old done for criminal damage. To me, this is the sort of FOI which should be on the diary to do ever year.








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