A new survey indicates that most NHS organisations have so far only received a limited number of Freedom of Information requests and have coped with them reasonably well.

The survey of 66 NHS organisations reveals that all but a handful were dealing with information requests within the statutory 20-day limit. The organisations that took part included acute hospital trusts, PCTs and strategic health authorities.

Most organisations reported receiving less than ten information requests in the six weeks after the FOIA came in to force. The overwhelming majority of respondents said answering information requests took up less than 20 staff hours per week.

The 66 organisations surveyed had received a total of 404 requests, of which 155 concerned clinical performance and other medical matters. The next most commonly requested subject was financial data 80 FOI requests, followed by contracted out services – 34 FOI requests, and major incidents and events – 33 requests.

The majority of FOI requests were found to have come from the general public – 149, followed by the media – 132, business – 74, and campaign groups – 17. Fifty of the 66 organisations reported receiving less than ten requests during the six-week period, with 55 managing to respond to all the requests within the 20-day limit.

Although the FOI Act has generated many headlines in recent weeks, only two respondents reported that information released under the Act has resulted in media coverage.

Most of the NHS organisations surveyed said they managed their publication scheme websites using their existing content management system.  The survey was conducted by IT firm Harlequin Solutions, in conjunction with freedomofinformation.co.uk