Enquiries, assessments, investigations and individuals

D. Moore made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

For the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 please provide:

1. The total number of enquiries the PHSO received;
2. The total number of individuals who complained to the PHSO;
3. The number of individuals who had one, two, three, complaints etc.;
4. The total number of assessments completed;
5. The total number of individuals with assessments;
6. The number of individuals who had one, two, three assessments etc.;
7. The total number of investigations accepted;
8. The total number of individuals with investigations;
9. The number of individuals who had one, two, three investigations etc.;
10. The total number of fully/partly upheld investigations;
11. The total number of individuals with fully/partly upheld investigations;
12. The number of individuals with fully/partly upheld investigations who had one, two, three investigations etc.;
13. The total number of investigations that were not upheld;
14. The total number of individuals whose investigations were not upheld; and
15. The number of individuals whose investigations were not upheld who had one, two, three investigations etc.

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Moore

 

Your information requests (FDN-256594)

 

I am writing in response to your two separate emails of 2 May 2016 in
which you requested information we had previously refused another
requestor on the Whatdotheyknow.com website because it would exceed the
appropriate limit to comply with those requests.

 

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the exemption
for requests which would take a disproportionate amount of time to comply
with, applies to the information you have asked for.  This is because we
have estimated it would take over 23 hours to comply with these two
requests.  Please note that requests made for the same or similar
information and received from an individual or individuals working in
concert can be amalgamated for the purposes of section 12 FOIA.  Further
guidance on this exemption is available on the Information Commissioner’s
Officer website at the following link:

[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

 

I hope that this information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

From: D. Moore [mailto:[FOI #332171 email]]
Sent: 02 May 2016 16:12
To: InformationRights
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Enquiries, assessments,
investigations and individuals

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

For the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 please provide:

1. The total number of enquiries the PHSO received;
2. The total number of individuals who complained to the PHSO;
3. The number of individuals who had one, two, three, complaints etc.;
4. The total number of assessments completed;
5. The total number of individuals with assessments;
6. The number of individuals who had one, two, three assessments etc.;
7. The total number of investigations accepted;
8. The total number of individuals with investigations;
9. The number of individuals who had one, two, three investigations etc.;
10. The total number of fully/partly upheld investigations;
11. The total number of individuals with fully/partly upheld
investigations;
12. The number of individuals with fully/partly upheld investigations who
had one, two, three investigations etc.;
13. The total number of investigations that were not upheld;
14. The total number of individuals whose investigations were not upheld;
and
15. The number of individuals whose investigations were not upheld who had
one, two, three investigations etc.

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

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Gadawodd phsothefacts Pressure Group anodiad ()

An organisation such as PHSO should have all this information to hand in order to assess their own performance. This kind of data should be made available to the board and be put in an open and transparent manner on the website.

The fact that PHSO continually hide these facts behind the data protection act says a lot about the dysfunctional way this body 'serves the public'.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Enquiries, assessments, investigations and individuals'.

I do not believe that complying with my requests would exceed the cost limit as you claim. I have checked other requests on Whatdotheyknow and I have seen that you have provided almost all the information I have requested to others for past periods. Indeed, much of the information I have requested, if not all, is information that one would expect to be either published in your annual report or to be provided to management.

You have written:

"Please note that requests made for the same or similar information and received from an individual or individuals working in concert can be amalgamated for the purposes of section 12 FOIA ".

I have not requested similar information before and I am "working in concert" with no one. I have copied two requests from someone else which you refused to answer. You claimed that dealing with the two requests, together with eight others, would exceed the cost limit. I consider the information I seek of to be of considerable public interest and firmly believe I have the right to receive it.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your correspondence.

Gadawodd Jt Oakley anodiad ()

The PHSO has to explain why retrieving this information would take too long.

It has to give you estimates..just like builder would do.

Is it based solely on staff time? If so, why? Where is the information held?

Or it's software? Still outdated- and from nothing much seems to be retrievable?

It has to give a reasonable explanation, not just say no.

Here's the provided link:

Sometimes, a public authority may expect to incur costs other than those relating to staff time when carrying out the permitted activities. The key to deciding whether or not these costs can be included in the estimate is whether it would be reasonable to include those charges.
19. For example, if a public authority is able to evidence that its existing software is unable to do the job but that it could purchase other specialist software which would allow the requested information to be retrieved, then the full costs of purchasing that specialist software could be reasonably included in the estimate. In such cases, the Commissioner would require sight of the estimates of any proposed purchase if a complaint were made to hi etc,

( in link)

And if the information is already available via other requests, surely a link is appropriate?

:::
It just looks like a decision had been made, accusing you of collaborating with others....without specifying whom.

Therefore -ask who,

Since the accusation has to be based in fact, rather than supposition.

I had totally false allegations made against me by the PHSO, despite denying them - which I could prove to the Tribunal.

If the PHSO is accusing you erroneously - without substantive fact, it would therefore seem to be continuing to defend its reputation by trying to degrade you.

:::
The accusation is one thing - but the PHSO still has to be seen to be helpful. Because, in my experience, the court really does not like obstructive behaviour, without merit,

And there is no evidence of section 16 help and advice - for any of the file information which you have asked to read.

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

I've contacted the ICO about this. Here is the other request that has been refused:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

ICO Decision Notice, or less formally, "bullet in the head" can be read here:

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Gadawodd Jt Oakley anodiad ()

As the date of the request had passed (at the point PHSO responded to it) extracting the information would mean recreating the state of the trackers at that date (2 May 2016). PHSO says it would have to look at any cases currently open and which may have been open on 2 May 2016 and work out how many days each was open for. PHSO says it would then need to look at any cases that have since been closed to find out if they would have been open at the specific date in May, and work out how long they would have been open at that date.

::::

Since the PHSO has a new system after May 2, it maybe that you could narrow your request from that date onwards if you want some if the information, as the new system should make the tracing job easier.

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Jt Oakley,

Thanks for the annotation. I am considering a few requests to make.

Details of my ICO Appeal are now available to read:

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/

You will already know the procedure that one must go through, but the information may be useful to others interested in the appeals process. In my case, I was invited to accept the findings of a preliminary decision. Since the Commissioner changed her mind on section 16 FOIA only after I appealed, complainants who do not appeal could be losing out by not having their complaints properly considered. In my case, however, it may yet pass that PHSO convince the Tribunal that they did not breach section 16 FOIA.

Some discussion on section 16 FOIA and my Appeal here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

I meant "preliminary assessment" instead of "preliminary decision". Oops!

Gadawodd Jt Oakley anodiad ()

Glad annotation on S16 was a help.

My impression is that the courts really do not appreciate Public Authorities neglecting to apply S16.

When simple guidance would of saved public purse costs.

- And oddly enough the ICO seems to have been 'overlooking' the importance the following £££ public cost of it too.

::

When you add up the costs:

1. PHSO employees prolonging requests unecessarily - staff time.

2. The ICO staff costs for processing complaint. ( including appeal with senior officers).

3. If you appeal - the ICO staff lawyers' costs.

::

4 Justice system GRC employees time in guiding the request through the court system

5. Nb This involves ensuring all the paperwork is correct.

Some wasn't in my case ( withheld by PHSO ), so extra hours of work chasing that for PHSO, ICO and court employee.

::

6. The court - cost of booking the room.

7. Admin at the court plus staff ( clerk) cost....Down to the court receptionist's time.

8. The cost of the QC ( hefty) and two tribunal members travel, possibly overnight stays etc

9. Subsistence allowance -food for Tribunal panel.

::

10. Office space rented during length of request both PHSO, ICO and GRC
11. Heating, lighting throughout.
12. Paper postage and equipment ( eg Photocopier) at all points.

::

It all mounts up.

And, as the PHSO is often keen to mention the hours taken to extract data (without applying S 16) a conservative estate of these costs would be around £10- 15k.

::::

.....And all for the sake of not initially giving S 16 help and assistance to the request.

No wonder the courts ( and government) seem particularly unimpressed by Public Authorities consistently wasting public money - by skipping the S16 step.

:::

As for your request :

Did the PHSO give a proper breakdown of costs?

Or was it the usual:

'This is what we are stating - with no specific 'specialist' evidence? '

Was this a 'sensible, realistic and supported by cogent evidence'? As the ICO advises.

Because if ANY of the requested information was within its Annual Report:

1. Page nine onwards.....

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

....the PHSO should have provided a link and subtracted the appropriate number of hours from its response - in a proper summing up of the hours necessarily to fulfil your request,

2. Or stated complaint numbers at the Parliamentary Committee - PACAC ( which both Dame Julie Mellor and Mick Martin did) then these figures should have been provided in response to your request.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

So where are these figures in the response?

The only conclusion is that is that the complaint statistics provided in the Annual Report and to PACAC were false - if, as stated, the PHSO had had no way of verifying them at that time.

::

Stats provided in evidence.
For example:
Chair: Some 43% were accepted for investigation compared with an overall acceptance rate of 63%.

To be specific on percentages, the PHSO must have known the numbers involved.

::

As for Section 12 ....

A reasonable estimate
21. A public authority does not have to make a precise calculation of the costs of complying with a request; instead only an estimate is required. However, it must be a reasonable estimate. 

22. What amounts to a reasonable estimate can only be considered on a case by case basis. However, the Information Tribunal in the case of Randall v Information Commissioner and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (EA/2006/0004, 30 October 2007) said that a reasonable estimate is one that is “....sensible, realistic and supported by cogent evidence”. 

‘Sensible and realistic’
23. A sensible and realistic estimate is one which is based on the specific circumstances of the case. In other words, it should not be based on general assumptions, for example, that all records would need to be searched in order to obtain the requested information when it is likely that staff in the relevant department would know where the requested information is stored.

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

The customer complaints department should have had the stats so that they could be stated publically - in evidence to a Parliamentary Committee and in the Annual Report.

:::

SAR - make a Subject Access Request.

The PHSO just seems to have stated what it's 'management specialists' said - without any 'specialist' detail.

::

Who are these 'specialists' and what information was given to them to check?

The suspicion must be that it's someone from the same office.a colleague, or indeed the original respondee.

For instance- Were they told about the stats given in the Annual Report and in evidence to PACAC that had to be subtracted from their specialist estimate?

So you will need a SAR to track your request through the system to see exactly how the PHSO name this statement....

This was crucial for me as the response proved that the PHSO had misinformed the ICO.

Good luck.

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Bevan Brittan lawyers are acting on behalf of the PHSO. The witness evidence submitted to the Tribunal in support of the PHSO's Response can be found here:

https://wordpress.com/stats/day/foiaappe...

'26. Tellingly, the ICO does not identify in her Response what particular advice or assistance could have been provided at the time. In fact, the PHSO informed the Appellant in response to the internal review that he should consider revising his Requests so as to avoid the application of section 12 and that it might be possible for the PHSO to accede to"a smaller number of those questions whilst not exceeding the cost limit".'

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Wrong link posted above. I hope this is the right one:

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/page/3/

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

I have received a bundle of documents from the ICO ahead of the tribunal.

From the PHSO response to the ICO dated 13 December 2016: 

"It was not possible to provide more precise information on how to best narrow the requests as the granular nature of all the data requested meant that there was not an obvious part which could be answered easily."  

From the PHSO First Witness Statement dated 16 May 2017:

" 10  Whilst some of the fifteen parts of the request would only take a few minutes each to answer". 

It is obvious to me that these two statements contradict each other.

Full details:

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/page/6/

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Here are my final written submissions for the tribunal:

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/page/6/

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Letter from HMCTS:

"The Chamber President considers...this appeal is suitable to be decided by a Judge alone."

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/page/6/

(scroll to bottom of page)

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Appeal dismissed.

The Commissioner's change of view on section 16 was also dismissed. Her reasons were "undeveloped and unconvincing".

Details can be viewed here:

https://foiaappeal.wordpress.com/page/6/

(scroll to bottom)

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Annual Report and Accounts 2019-2020 (page 30)

'The outcome of all enquiries and complaints in 2019-2020'

103,965 enquiries received

30,895 complaints handled

73,070 enquiries with advice provided or redirected *

5,236 decisions made

25,659 complaints not ready for us or should not be taken forward

* Does this include people who phone the wrong number?

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Dr Bruce Newsome shoots to bits PHSO figures in his latest hard-hitting article entitled: 'letting another quango mislead parliament?'

https://thecritic.co.uk/why-is-the-gover...

'The PHSO investigated 30.6 percent fewer cases in 2019-2020 compared to the preceding year, even though enquiries fell by 7.4 percent. Yet, the PHSO misreported 13 percent more enquiries, as recently as August this year.'

'The PHSO refused to quantify the reduction of demand in the final six months. The PHSO’s communications with me on these issues were confusing. Its first excuse was that the person responsible for that part of the report separated from the PHSO. Another excuse was that the National Audit Office hadn’t asked for clarification or correction of that part of the report. In the end, it went back to its claim that because its metrics changed in November 2019 it could not be expected to quantify the subsequent fall in demand .'

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

'Phso the Facts' have produced a graph which vividly illustrates how the number of investigations carried out by the PHSO has fallen by more than two-thirds between 2016/17 and 2019/20 - from 3,715 to 1,122:

https://twitter.com/phsothefacts/status/...

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

PACAC 23rd November 2020:

https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevi...

'Q39 Tom Randall: Mr Behrens, in the previous scrutiny session you said the ombudsman had experienced an increase of 13% in demand compared to the previous year. My understanding is that figure cannot be fully evidenced becausea new IT system was introduced. Can you tell us at what point you discovered that that suggestion could not be evidenced?

Rob Behrens: We came to you in May before we had the full account of the whole year’s increase in inquiries, the total figure. The figure that I gave to you in May was from the first eight months of the calendar year, which had shown a 13% increase. We then changed the way in which we counted inquiries, as Amanda has explained, by moving from the total number of inquiries to looking at which inquiry came from individuals. If there were two inquiries from one individual that was nottwo new inquiries, it was one. That is what the new ICT system enabled us to do. We had been encouraged to adopt that by the peer review system and, as a result, at the end of the year the number of complaints that we received increased anyway. I have given you the best account of the available information that I have had. There has been an increase in the number of complaints that were received in-year to the tune of in excess of 7%.'

It's good that academic Bruce Newsome is looking into the figures the Ombudsman publishes.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

'Q42 Tom Randall: Can I ask about inquiries and complaints? When does an inquiry become a complaint?

Amanda Amroliwala: An inquiry is a front-end contact, essentially, coming into our system. That can be a contact about an existing complaint, a new complaint, a request for information or to give us information about something. It can be a variety of things and historically those have been classified as an inquiry but, as I have explained, because of the change in the way our IT system works we are now logging those in a different way. Once we have looked at something that we believe is a new complaint and can see that there is substance insofar as they may have already gone through the local resolution system and they have given us an indication of why they think there are still failings, that becomes a new complaint. Then we say, “We will have a look at that a bit more” and bring that into the system and give it consideration.'

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

PACAC 23 November 2020:

In response to a question from Karin Smith (Q19) Amanda Amroliwala said:

'From now on we will be counting inquiries in a different way. Previously every time a contact was made at the front end of our business—so that is a telephone call, an e-mail, a letter in the post—theywere all logged as separate inquiries.

Our new system, which is much better for data capture, adds that inquiry to aprevious person record if theperson has contacted us in the past. That is why the numbers of overall inquiries have dropped off quite dramatically at the end of the year.'

And in response to one from Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Q12) she said:

'In many of those cases, we will have spoken to the complainant and the organisation, we will have taken preliminary clinical advice and we will have made a determination. Many other ombudsman services would call that an investigation.It is the way our terminology describes it that says that that is an assessment.'

All clear now!