Ministers block release of NHS risk register
The risk register was compiled ahead of the introduction of the Health and Social Care Bill
8 May 2012 Last updated at 16:11
The risk assessment of the NHS overhaul in England will not be published after ministers vetoed demands to release it.
The information commissioner ruled in March that the risk register should be published.
But the cabinet has now decided to block its release in the belief doing so could have harmed the quality of advice from civil servants.
It is thought unlikely the information commissioner can challenge the government’s position.
The risk register is a written document drawn up by policy makers that lists the threat to the delivery of services from any changes.
The NHS one was put together at the same time the white paper outlining Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans was compiled two years ago.
A draft version of the risk register has already been leaked.
It revealed rising costs of GP care, poorer response to health emergencies and the high chance of losing financial control of the services were among the risks.
The tribunal was held after the government was asked to release the risk assessment in a freedom of information request by a Labour MP.
The tribunal ruled that the public interest in publishing it was “very high, if not exceptional”.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “This is not a step I have taken lightly.
“I am a firm believer in greater transparency and this government and this department have done far more than our predecessors in publishing information about the performance and results of our policies.
“But there also needs to be safe space where officials are able to give ministers full and frank advice in developing policies and programmes.
“The Freedom of Information Act always contemplated such a ‘safe space’ and I believe effective government requires it.”
But despite blocking the release of the information, the government has published a document which sets out some of the risks and how they have been mitigated against during the parliamentary passage of the Health and Social Care Act.