Criticism of a region for the deficient and slow processing of a request to access a public document; also statements on the importance of ensuring that the principle of public access to official records is reflected in the authorities’ choice of technical solutions and organisational structure

Region Dalarna has set up a special joint disclosure service tasked with processing requests to access public documents. In the case of medical records, the disclosure service does not accept orders by e-mail. Persons wishing to request medical records are asked either to use 1177 Healthcare guide’s e-services or to phone via Tele-Q, a telephone system with a queue and callback service. In Regiona Dalarna, for a certain period, it could take around two weeks for a case officer to call back a person who had called via Tele-Q to request a public document.

The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that there is no formal requirement in terms of how a request for access to a public document is to be made. Persons wishing to submit their request by e-mail, for example, can do so. The Region is criticised for not processing and replying to a request sent to the authority by e-mail. The Region is furthermore criticised for only disclosing the document in question two months after it had been requested. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman states that it is evident that the management of requests is contrary to the requirement to act promptly in the Freedom of the Press Act.

In conclusion, the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman emphasises that the principle of public access to official records, which includes the right to access public documents, is central to the Swedish legal system and a foundation of our democracy. It is therefore very important for an authority to ensure that the principle is reflected in the choice of, for example, technical solutions, staffing and organisational structure. Digital contact routes often suit the vast majority of people, but not everyone can or wants to use them. The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman assumes that Region Dalarna is taking the necessary appropriate measures so as to ensure that the requirement for prompt handling can be met in the future, regardless of the contact routes individuals choose to use to request access to a public document.

Date of decision: 2024-02-12