Primary care trusts refuse to divulge out-of-hours spending

Three PCTs have refused to divulge how much they spend on out-of-hours care, claiming the figure is commercially confidential.

Using Freedom of Information requests, Healthcare Republic asked a number of trusts how much they spent on the service in 2007/8.

Most provided a figure. But three refused, citing section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows public bodies to withhold commercial information.

Both Barnet and Blackpool PCTs declined to reveal their spending on the grounds that they use a single out-of-hours provider. Releasing the figure would reveal the full value of a confidential contract, they said.

A spokeswoman for South Birmingham PCT, meanwhile, simply said the trust considered ‘information relating to the value of the out-of-hours contract to be commercial in confidence’.

The Information Commissioner has in the past ruled against public bodies which tried to keep such figures secret. He argued that public spending decisions should be open to scrutiny, to ensure value for money.

  • Should PCTs be more open about out-of-hours costs?

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