Released 8 December 2022
Please provide details of clinical service incidents caused by estates and infrastructure failure at your hospital trust in 2021/22.
A “clinical service incident” is defined as follows: Number of incidents caused by estates and infrastructure failure which caused clinical services to be delayed, cancelled or otherwise interfered with owing to problems or failures related to the estates and infrastructure failure. Exclude failures relating to non-estates causes e.g. nursing availability but include where external incidents which estates and infrastructures should have mitigated e.g. utility power failures where the Trusts backup power system failed to offset. An incident is considered to be a delay of at least 30 minutes to clinical services affecting at least 5 patients or equivalent. Both inpatient and outpatient service incidents should be included. Please note that the information provided will not always capture the length of delay or the total number of patients affected.
Such incidents will include, but are not limited to:
- Power and/or heating failures including overheating
- Fires and false alarms (where caused by equipment faults or malfunction, deliberate/malicious causes should be excluded)
- Water and/or sewage supply
- Food production and/or delivery
- Pest control
For each incident, please provide a summary of the incident and the impact on services. Please provide details of the problem and in what way clinical services were affected, including the number of patients affected, the service and how long the service was delayed/if it was cancelled.
Assistance provided under Section 16 [duty to assist]:
The Trust has a responsibility under section 16 of the Act to provide assistance with FOI requests where possible and reasonable to do so.
While we can report on the number and nature of significant infrastructure-related incidents recorded on our Datix reporting system, the level of detail you are seeking relevant to “estates and infrastructure failure” incidents specifically and the impact these incidents may have had on clinical services is not held centrally.
We hold a list of Facilities and Estates “incidents” that have been logged across the Trust’s seven hospital sites. However this list contains hundreds of entries, ranging from broken light bulbs to wet floors etc. In order that we may provide you with meaningful information in the context of your request, each entry on this list would need to be audited to determine if the issue was serious enough to be classed as a clinical incident. For example, a blown light bulb in a storage cupboard would be recorded in the same way as a blown light bulb in an operating theatre. Whilst the light bulb in the cupboard is unlikely to be a clinical incident, there is a higher probability the light bulb in the Operating Theatre may well be, but even then other factors would need to be considered before we could decide this is the case. Once it has been established that an estates and infrastructure failure had a clinical impact, we would then need to audit the relevant service/s activity to determine the length of any delay and whether any patients may have been affected.
Any attempt to compile information related to these incidents in the format requested would require considerable research across Trust services. On this basis we unable to provide the information you are seeking within the ‘appropriate limit’ as outlined in the Fees Regulations and section 12 provision [cost limit] of the Act is applicable. We regret that the Trust does not have the spare capacity to fulfil such a work-intensive request, which in this case is essentially a large research project. We will provide further information about the application of this provision in our final response where appropriate.
Additionally, the Trust is not required under the terms of the Act to create ‘new’ information for the purpose of answering a FOI request. According to guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office, where the provision of information will require complex analysis and a high level of skill and judgement to produce, this would amount to creating information not already held. An initial assessment of the work involved in the providing the information you are seeking concluded that it meets the criteria of information ‘not held’ under this guidance.
With the above in mind, we are writing to you under section 16 of the Act [duty to assist] to offer you the opportunity to revise and/or clarify your request.