Mr X and the Health and Information Quality Authority (HIQA)

CourtInformation Commission
Judgment Date08 January 2020
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the decision of HIQA to refuse access to the draft inspection report under section 29(1) of the FOI Act
Record NumberOIC-57315-B6Q8W5
RespondentHealth and Information Quality Authority
Whether HIQA was justified in refusing access to a draft report of an inspection of a named care facility under sections 29(1) and 30(1)(a) of the FOI Act
8 January 2020

In a request dated 18 July 2019, the applicant sought access to all records, including draft reports, held by HIQA in relation to an August 2017 inspection of a named care centre. In its decision dated 14 August 2019, HIQA refused access to a draft inspection report under sections 29(1) and 30(1)(a) of the FOI Act. The applicant sought an internal review of HIQA’s decision and on 29 August 2019, HIQA affirmed its original decision. On 29 September 2019, the applicant sought a review by this Office of HIQA’s decision.
I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act. In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between this Office and both HIQA and the applicant during the review. I have also had regard to the contents of the record concerned. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision.
Scope of Review
This review is concerned solely with whether HIQA was justified in refusing to grant access to the draft inspection report of the named care centre under sections 29(1) and 30(1)(a) of the FOI Act.
Analysis & Findings
The record at issue consists of a draft report of an inspection HIQA conducted into a named HSE managed centre for persons with disabilities.
In its submission of 19 November 2019 to this Office, HIQA stated that the centre was inspected in August 2017 to assess whether the service provider (the HSE) was in compliance with the relevant regulations and standards under the Health Act 2007 as amended. It said that the Health Act provides limited guidance on the inspection mechanism itself, but that HIQA had a duty to apply fair procedures from the outset of the process as to do otherwise would expose HIQA to judicial review of its decisions and challenges in defamation law. It said that it has put in place systems and processes in order to ensure the integrity of its inspection process and the resulting outputs of that process.
HIQA added that to ensure regulatory decisions are made in a fair and consistent manner, it has adopted the “Authority Monitoring Approach” (AMA), a framework which provides inspectors with a range of procedures, protocols and tools to assist them with carrying out their statutory functions of inspection under the Health Act. It said...

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