The Freedom of Information Act entitles members of the public to ask a public authority (including the NHS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for any recorded information they keep.
It reflects a national policy shift in public administration from a culture of confidentiality to one of openness.
The underlying principle is that all information held by a public authority should be freely available except for a small number of tightly defined items.
It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, such as Government departments, local authorities and NHS bodies.
Under the Act, anyone can make a request for information and the public body in question has to respond to the request within 20 working days. The Act sets out exemptions to that right and places certain obligations on public authorities.
The Act is enforced by the Information Commissioner, a post that combines regulation of both the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act. Further information about this can be found on the Freedom of Information website.
Requests for Information from NHS Swindon should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org