Services and Access

How does FOI apply to LHSA?

Our records
Most of the records held by Lothian Health Services Archive are regarded as having been produced by NHS Lothian and its predecessor bodies. As NHS Lothian is a Scottish Public Authority, these records are therefore subject to the terms of the FOI Act.

LHSA also holds some collections which have been deposited with the Archive but are still owned by private individuals and organisations. These records are not subject to the terms of the FOI Act (unless the organisation is a public authority in its own right).


If an exemption applies, the request for information will be dealt with outwith the terms of the FOI Act, the information may or may not be disclosed.  There are two FOI exemptions most applicable to LHSA records:

Exemption Description Related Links
Section 25: Information Otherwise Accessible LHSA provides a public archive service, and publishes catalogues of its collections. The material described in these catalogues is deemed to be reasonably accessible because of the way it is described and the ease with which it can be located. This means that enquiries which relate to catalogued material are not subject to the full provisions of the FOI Act.  Although such records are deemed reasonably accessible this does not mean to say that other exemptions will not apply which may prevent disclosure.

FOI(S)A S.25

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Section 38: Personal Information LHSA holds large amounts of confidential patient, staff and student records.  Records which contain personal information about living individuals are exempt from the provisions of the FOI Act.  Records of deceased individuals are also exempt for 100 years from the last date of the record.  Access to these records is governed by the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and the Records Management: NHS Code of Practice (Scotland) Version 2 (2010).

FOI(S)A S.38

Data Protection Act

NHS Code of Practice (Scotland)

From 2004-2005 LHSA carried out an audit of its archive holdings in order to identify any records which would be exempt from disclosure under FOI. This means that requests for information can be answered more quickly and efficiently.  Apart from the large amount of personal data which falls under the Section 38 exemption described above, the majority of LHSA material is considered open.

The audit has also allowed us to calculate the amount of uncatalogued material in the archive. Access to this material is not exempt under the Section 25 exemption described above, requests will be subject to the full provisions of the FOI Act.