Fresh demands for release of risk register on health laws

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The Government faced new calls yesterday to release the risk register on its controversial new health laws after the Information Tribunal outlined its full reasons to back disclosure.

The tribunal said earlier it believed the public interest warranted disclosure of the document, outlining possible risks caused by the Health and Social Care Act, which was passed into law last month.

And in a statement of reasons yesterday, the tribunal highlighted the fact that the proposals “hardly changed” following extensive consultations on the health White Paper. It said the timing of the freedom of information (FoI) request – and refusal by the Department of Health – came at a moment of “exceptional” public interest in the issue.

Sources at the Department of Health said all options were being considered, including a fresh legal challenge if a point of law is in dispute, or wielding the Cabinet veto. But Labour MP John Healey, a former shadow health secretary who made the request, said: “This legal judgment explains why the public have the right to know the risks the Government is running with our NHS and how Ministers are managing them.

“The Government has lost twice in law trying to keep the NHS risk register secret and Ministers must now release it, as the court says they should have done 16 months ago.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are now examining the judgment given by the Information Tribunal.

“We are working closely with colleagues across government and we will set out our next steps as soon as we are able to.”

In the statement of reasons, the tribunal said: “We find the weight we give to the need for transparency and accountability in the circumstances of this case to be very weighty indeed.”