If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, you might want to know how to submit an FOI request (Freedom of Information) to your local maternity providers. It’s worth finding out as much as possible about your likely treatment beforehand, and it’s pretty simple to do.
How to Submit an FOI Request
- Find out which NHS Trusts cover your local area
Quickest way to do this is to use the postcode location service on the NHS website. This will list all the local services, sorted by distance. https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/Maternity-services/LocationSearch/1802
- Check out the Trust websites you’re interested in.
Mostly clicking through to the individual pages will display the website at the top under the name, if not, just Google it.
- Find the page on Freedom of Information requests.
There always is one. Easiest way is to type “FOI” into the search box, usually found somewhere near the top. Somewhere on that page will list the email address you need to send queries to.
- Send your questions/request for relevant policies to the FOI email address.
If you don’t want to write your own, feel free to use/adapt mine:
“I would like to know with regard to your fertility, maternity, childbirth and post-natal services:
1. Do you have a policy for the management of larger women? If so, what is the BMI cut off (or other criteria) where this policy comes into use?
2. Please attach a copy of the above policy.
3. Please could you attach any other policies/guidelines/protocols relating to fertility, maternity, childbirth and post-natal which address the management of higher BMI women. This could include (but not be limited to):
Inclusion/exclusion criteria for use of midwife led unit, hospital birthing pool, home birth, IVF etc.
Glucose Tolerance Testing and Gestational Diabetes,
Pre-Birth Anaesthetist referral
Additional growth scans
Digital copies/pdfs preferred.
- Wait for a response
The authority must reply to you within 20 working days.
Anyone has a right to request information from a public authority. For your request to be dealt with according to the Freedom of Information Act, you must:
Contact the relevant authority directly
Make the request in writing, for example in a letter or an email
Give your real name; and
Give an address to which the authority can reply (postal or email)
You do not have to:
Mention the Freedom of Information Act
Say why you want the information
They can charge you for the costs of sending the information, such as photocopying and postage if you request a copy by mail, but not if you request copies by email. They must let you know any cost beforehand.
By law they must provide the information unless there is good reason not to; e.g. if in the interests of public safety or security to withhold the information or they do not record that information. See the Information Commissioner’s Office page for more info.
- Send the documents to Big Birthas for inclusion on the website!
If you do get copies of your local policies, please contact me via the form on https://bigbirthas.co.uk/about-big-birtha/contact-big-birtha/ to let me know, and I’ll email back (stops me being inundated with spam!). Then you can send me the documents so I can add them/update them here for the benefit of all.