FOI Friday: Maternity complaints, metal thefts, paying to access phone records and money from recycling,


Complaints about maternity wards (Sunday Sun)

A BABY was cut across the face as it was delivered by a routine Caesarean section procedure at a North hospital, the Sunday Sun reported after using FOI to get hold of details of complaints made about maternity units in the region.

It was one of almost 200 formal complaints to NHS trusts about maternity units, services and care experienced by soon-to-be parents and new mums.

There are tens of thousands of births in the North each year, and so the number of complaints is low. But unions last night called on the Government to ensure there was enough cover on maternity wards.

The cost of checking mobile phone records (Stoke Sentinel)

With phone hacking rarely out of the news at the moment, here’s a different relationship involving mobile phones which may cause surprise: The amount police forces have to pay mobile phone companies for access to records when carrying out investigations.

Figures released under a Freedom of Information request show that the amounts paid to telephone companies so Staffordshire Police can get their hands on text messages and call records have spiralled since 2007.

The information shows the force spent £238,803 in the financial year 2007/8. The following year the bill went up by £50,000 to £288,928.

Then in 2009/10, the force paid out £330,869.

Metal theft costs hit councils (BBC)

The BBC in Wales used FOI to ask councils if they’d seen a rise in metal thefts. They had- in some cases, the cost of metal stolen from councils – such as bins, copper cables and manhole covers – had doubled. The impact on people’s lives manifests itself in many ways, say councils.

Money for nothing (BBC)

Money is supposed to be tight at councils across the country, but the BBC reports on an FOI by a councillor which revealed Surrey County Council spent £2.5million on healthcare providers for beds it never used. It appears heasked for the number of beds the council paid for and the percentage which weren’t used. The councillor suggests £2.5million was spent without need.

Why people fail driving tests (Daily Telegraph)

The DVLA has proved to be rich pickings for journalists chasing up the ‘how many people have more than 12 points on their licence in my area’ FOI in recent weeks – now here’s another driving one to go at, this time courtesy of the Driving Standards Agency. The Daily Telegraph got a breakdown of the number of driving tests taken, the number of passes, and the number of fails – and the reasons for those fails. A lot of near-misses, it appears.

How much your council makes from recycling (Sheffield Star)

Few issues generate more interest than recycling – really. The Sheffield Star has an interesting take on the issue by asking the council to reveal how much it made from selling on the paper, plastics and so on it collected through recycling. An extra half a millions pounds in the coffers in Sheffield.

What price fame? (Birmingham Mail) 

We’ve seen the ‘how much did a council spend on celebrity bookings’ story before, but it’s worth including again because of the amount of information the Birmingham Mail has received from Birmingham City Council when it posed that question under FOI. The answer was £100,000 – broken down by each celebrity’s booking. It also includes the celebrities who made appearances for free. A good example to highlight if other councils put the shutters up.

The cost of lost and stolen equipment (York Press) 

What price good insurance? Or, more importantly, what’s the price of not having insurance? The York Press reports on the city council’s £7k bill for replacing lost and stolen laptops and mobile phones over the last year. The council is now being encouraged to make people pay for the losses themselves.

Languages spoken in schools (Bradford Telegraph and Argus) 

This is one of those stories which always carries the risk it will hijacked by right-wing campaigners but it is an important issue all the same. The Telegraph and Argus used FOI to get a school-by-school list revealing the percentage of children who didn’t speak English as a first language. It should also be possible to find out how many languages are spoken at a school.

Future population projections (Scarborough Evening News) 

An interesting one, and maybe a bit of a flyer in some areas, but the Scarborough Evening News has a fascinating story about how the council expects the population to change over the next few decades. The council is expecting a population boom, much of it made up of OAPs. Presumably, other councils have to come up with such plans which could make for interesting reading.


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Note: FOI Friday is compiled using news searches such as Google News and from tips sent to this blog. If you’ve had an FOI success, please let me know!









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