For many public authorities, Freedom of Information requests are inevitable – and they might even be fairly common. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to deal with. Seeking out the required data can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a suitable system in place to manage the necessary documentation.
JCAD LACHS is software specifically designed for busy claims management departments. Not only can it help you streamline your claims handling system and improve efficiency in day-to-day operations – it can also be very useful when having to process a Freedom of Information request.
What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 was established to provide public access to information held by public authorities. Anyone can request information, regardless of age, nationality or where they live, but there are different regulations that need to be considered, depending on the type of information – such as the Data Protection Act 1998.
What type of information does the Act cover?
The Act covers all recorded information held by public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. UK-wide public authorities in Scotland are also covered and Scotland has its own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act from 2002.
Recorded information includes:
- Printed documents
- Computer files
- Sound recordings
Personal data is protected and not available through Freedom of Information requests. Even a person’s own personal data is protected. If a person wants to access information like their own health records or credit reference file, they need to make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.
Government departments, local authorities, the NHS, police forces and state schools are all covered by the Freedom of Information Act, but not all organisations that receive public money are required to follow the Act. For example, some charities that receive grants don’t need to comply, while certain private sector organisations that perform public functions also don’t need to respond to Freedom of Information requests.
How do Freedom of Information Act requests work?
Requests under the Freedom of Information Act should be submitted in writing – by letter, email or fax. Once received, a response should be provided within 20 days, explaining whether you have the information that has been requested, and providing the information if it’s available.
If it will take longer than 20 days to process a Freedom of Information request, you should let the requester know and give details on when you expect to be able to provide the information.
While Freedom of Information requests are a formal way of getting information from an organisation – and something that cannot be refused in most situations – it’s generally recommended that most requests for information are dealt with in a non-formal manner as a matter of good customer service.
However, the provisions of the Act come into force if you are unable to provide information quickly or if the person who makes a request specifies they want a response under the Act.
How can claims handling software help?
In a claims management environment, there are a lot of documents and data that are processed every day – and when a Freedom of Information request comes through, it can be a time-consuming and difficult process to sift through all of the information to provide an accurate response.
However, JCAD LACHS claims management software can help simplify the process, as it provides a repository for all your data and documents. Items can be scanned and stored in the system and you can tag files with search terms and reference numbers so they’re easy to find when you need them.
LACHS also provides customisable reporting, making it easy to pull up historic data or information regarding trends as appropriate.
To find out more about JCAD LACHS claims handling software, get in touch on 01730 712 020.