Publication Scheme

Tags: Family and Friends Test, Information Governance, Patient Information, Policies, Publication Scheme


Practices must offer a Publication Scheme to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This act requires practices to provide a complete guide to the information they routinely make available to the public.

Publicly Available Information

  • Opening Times
  • Arrangements for emergency care
  • Details of access to the premises for people with disabilities
  • Dental hygienist treatment availability
  • Information about the care and treatment provided by the practice
  • NHS care, Private and Denplan care
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy teeth
  • Reducing anxiety about dental care
  • General health information
  • NHS information leaflets

Published information will exclude any information which can be legitimately withheld under the exemptions set out in the Code of Practice on Openness, or Freedom of Information Act 2000.


The Registered Provider and Registered Manager, under the requirements of the Practice Publication Scheme are primarily responsible for ensuring the practice meets this requirement.

The Information Governance Lead has operational responsibilities, ensuring the day to day practice of this requirement. The Information Governance Lead may report to the Registered Manager.


A policy should be in place to ensure the practice meets the responsibilities in respect of the Code of Practice on Openness in the HPSS 1996, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The policy must highlight how the practice makes information available to patients, in formats that individual patients can access and understand.

Patients must be provided with appropriate information to enable them to make an informed decision about all aspects of their care and treatment.

The policy should be reviewed annually, and monitored to ensure content changes are made immediately if required.


Any requests for information must be directed at the Information Governance Lead, Registered Manager and/or the Registered Provider. These individuals will be the ones to undertake the relevant security and identification processes before releasing the data. It is important that everyone in the practice is aware of who fulfil these job roles.

The practice should hold, retain and destroy any information in accordance with legal requirements and professional guidance.

Identification Process

The identification process may vary throughout practices, however it is generally made up of 3 pieces of photo identifiable, and/or official documents which are scanned and stored by the practice.

This may include:

  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Government Letter
  • Utility Bill

Fees for Information

Practices withhold the right for providing information. The GDPR, applicable from 2018, means that practice will no longer be able to charge patients for accessing their own information, unless it meets the excessive standards as outlined.

The practice may inforce a rule of obtaining public information similar to the below:

  • Single copies of any of the documents listed above will be free of charge, unless stated otherwise.
  • Other than your usual Internet Service Provider charges, there is no charge for accessing information on the practices website. If the user is taking a hard copy of the website content, any personal printing costs will be met by the user.
  • Those without access to the Internet can be provided with a single hardcopy of any web page available.
  • A charge may be applied for the retrieval, photocopy, postage etc for requests requiring CD ROMs, Multiple print outs, and copies of archived records which are no longer accessible or available on the internet.

The practice should make the user aware of any costs implicated, and all charges must be paid prior.

The practice should refrain from providing printouts of other organisations websites.

Patient information leaflets and brochures are free of charge.

E-mails are free of charge, unless informed otherwise.

The charges need to be reviewed regularly to ensure compliance with legislation, and the prices reflect the effort of the fulfilling the job.

Responding to Information Requests

The practice should aim to respond to requests about information held within a 1 month time frame. Should any issues arise to the request, which delays providing the information within this time frame, the requester will be informed.

Upon requests of information held appropriate rights of access will be raised. These rights are subject to some exemptions which the Information Governance Lead will take into consideration before deciding what information can be released.

Information concerning the Practice Publication Scheme may be placed on the website, waiting areas and the staff handbook. If patients request hard copies, this may be provided as a printout from the practice website.

To comply with The Freedom of Information Act 2000 information may be shown on the practice website, or in the Patient Information Leaflet to fulfil the responsibility of the practice to disclose how services are:

  • Organised
  • Run
  • Charged
  • Decisions Made

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, following appropriate security checks, the practice may provide access to patient’s dental records, and any other personal information held.

Patient Feedback

The practice should encourage feedback and comments about the operation of the Publication Scheme through the Friends and Family Test.

Feedback and comments should be used to assess how the practice shares information and how patient’s requests for information under the Publication Scheme have been handled.


Information Commissioner’s web site (ICO) – link >

NHS Freedom of Information web site – link >

By Charlotte Cash