Common Services Agency told to release information on leukaemia rates

A complaint against the NHS has been upheld by the Scottish Information Commissioner after the NHS breached freedom of information laws by refusing to disclose figures on childhood leukaemia.

Green Party MSP Chris Ballance had requested yearly information by census ward on childhood leukaemia in young children between 1990 and 2003 in Dumfries and Galloway. The Common Services Agency withheld the information, claiming that the small number of local cases meant there was a significant risk of disclosing personal information.

The Commissioner required the authority to provide census ward data, suitably amended to protect against potential identification of individuals, or, if preferred by the complainant, annual aggregate statistics at DG health board level. Mr Dunion said: "I have sought a balance which provides reassurance to individual patients about their rights to privacy and respects the wider public's right to information on health issues."

NHS criticised for not giving out statistics on leukaemia (The Scotsman, 17 August 2005)
Commissioner's decision (Scottish Information Commissioner's website)