Freedom of Information Request: 0612 2019/20
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) completed a merger by acquisition of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) on 1st April 2018. Due to historical differences in data collection/reporting across UHB and the former Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust this response has been provided by hospital site.
The Trust does hold the information you have requested, but we are withholding it for the following reasons:
Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) provides,
“(2) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).”
A commercial interest relates to a person’s ability to participate competitively in a commercial activity, with the underlying aim being to make a profit. The information you have requested is the commercial information of the third parties named in the below response and in order to apply section 43(2), the Trust must satisfy itself that disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice or harm the commercial interests of any person (including the Trust).
Disclosure of the information requested would be likely to prejudice the commercial activities of the third parties, in this case the suppliers of our Unlicensed Medicines and UK Bespoke Special Formulations.
The information you have requested is around the total cost of the 12 month period for each medicine to the Trust. This, coupled with the number of packs procured by month, would reveal the price paid for each product. Disclosing this to the world at large would involve placing elements of the providers’ commercial strategy into the hands of their competitors, which would prejudice their commercial interests.
The product prices were supplied in commercial confidence, therefore S43 (2) of the FOIA is engaged as disclosure of the information requested would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the suppliers.
The public interest test
Commercially sensitive information is protected from disclosure by Section 43(2) of the FOIA which is a qualified exemption subject to the public interest test. The Trust considered, in all the circumstance of the case, where the balance of the public interest lies.
Public interest in maintaining the exemption
There is a public interest in protecting the commercial interests of individual companies such as our suppliers, and ensuring they are able to compete fairly in a commercial environment.
Disclosure of information may cause unwarranted reputational damage to the Trust or the suppliers whose information it holds, which may in turn damage its commercial interests through loss of trade.
Revealing information such as product prices can be detrimental to the Trust’s negotiations on future tenders with other providers. If a competitor knows how much the Trust paid for a product then it can exploit this for profit or other gain.
Public interest in disclosing the information
To promote openness and transparency of public expenditure, which would enable the public to better scrutinise how public money is spent.
The balancing exercise
The Trust decided the public interest in maintaining the exemption substantially outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
As per the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please could you supply us with the following information for the period of December 2018 to December 2019 with the purchases of Unlicensed Medicines and UK bespoke special formulations by the Trust.
Could we please have the following information:
- Name and pack size of medicine (generic and propitiatory name if applicable)
Please see attached spreadsheet FOI 0612
- The number of packs procured broken down by month as above
Withheld under Section 43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) please see above for full details
- The total cost of the 12 month period for each medicine to the Trust.
Please see attached spreadsheet
- For the purchasing of Unlicensed Medicines and UK Unlicensed Specials, please could you advise if you plan to publish any contract, tender or Framework during 2020 and 2021?
If this is the case, please could you also advise where we should register to take part in this process?