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NHS risk register will not be published

9th May 2012

Ministers have blocked the release of the NHS risk register after making the decision that publishing the document could affect advice given in the future by public officials.

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In March, an Information Tribunal had ruled that the public interest in publishing the information was "very high, if not exceptional".

The risk register details threats to NHS service delivery caused by changes and was drawn up two years ago while Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was putting together the Health and Social Care Bill. 

When a draft version was leaked, it showed that there was a danger of increasing costs for GP care and a strong possibility that managers might not be able to control NHS finances. 

The veto was put in place by the cabinet but the move was criticised by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham as "a cover-up of epic proportions". 

Mr 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.

An Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) spokeswoman said: "We will need to study the secretary of state's statement of reasons for imposing the ministerial veto in this case. These must, under the criteria established by the government, be 'exceptional'.

"We will present the commissioner's formal report on the matter to Parliament next week."

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