Health

Wilson: Pati requests are burdening staff

  • Concern raised: Kim Wilson said Pati requests took up a lot of time and resources at the Ministry of Health

Requests from the public for information have hindered the work of the Ministry of Health, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said staff were “disproportionately burdened” by questions submitted under public access to information laws.

She said that the ministry “fully supports the spirit and intent of Pati, and go to more lengths than most to provide accountability and transparency to the public” through its website, briefs and newsletters.

But she added: “Pati implementation is costly and draws resources away from material public health needs.”

Ms Wilson said her ministry had handled 17 Pati request so far this year — including seven internal reviews.

She added that some information requests have been open for more than a year.

Ms Wilson said: “These absorb a tremendous amount of staff time and resource that is out of proportion to any possible benefit to the public.”

She highlighted a single Pati request that took “in excess” of 337 hours to complete and had cost the Government more than $20,000.

Ms Wilson said: “This cannot possibly have been the intent of Pati. I would have much preferred to have given that $20,000 to a rest home or to a homeless programme.

“But instead the public money was spent on satisfying the curiosity of one requester — and it is a regrettable usage of the public’s money.”