The risk register sets out all of the potential risks identified by the Department of Health for the entire range of areas for which it is responsible. These include financial risks, policy risks and sensitive commercial and contractual risks. It is a means by which the Department focuses on risks and acts to mitigate them.
The risk register is intended to form part of an internal focus on action to minimise risks. Such risks are reflected in public statements, in a balanced and evidence-based format, through the publication of impact assessments. In relation to the Government’s health reforms, the Government has been open and transparent about the results they will deliver, through the impact assessments published and updated as recently as September. These assessments, which include an assessment of the benefits and risks of the Government’s health reforms, are available on the Department of Health’s website, here: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsLegislation/DH_123583.
Although the Government recognises the public interest in the further information which has now been asked for, it needs to assess whether the public interest is best served by releasing this information, insofar as it could misrepresent the end result, whether impacted or not by the mitigating action. That is why the Department of Health is currently considering its response to the Information Commissioner’s decision, and will respond to the decision in early December.
The risk registers are working documents for all government departments, and Government needs to reflect on the implications of releasing them. It has 28 days in which to decide whether or not to appeal, but hopes to reach a decision well within that time scale.