Merged stats + PACAC's rebuke to Ombudsman over unevidenced claims to the committee

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

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

My request relates to paragraphs 12, 13 and 14 of a recently published PACAC report - Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Scrutiny 2019–20:

https://committees.parliament.uk/publica...

'12. The information provided in the PHSO’s annual report on the outcome of enquiries and complaints should be made more transparent. The grouping of cases that “are not ready to be taken forward” and “should not be taken forward” should be ended. Presumably the former could still lead to investigations being conducted while the latter would not. The PHSO should also separately report on complaints partially and fully upheld.'

1. Please provide the figures separately for (a) 'are not ready to be taken forward' and (b) 'should not be taken forward'. Additionally, please provide all information held that explains why you chose to present the figures in the way you did.

'13. ... Dr Bruce Newsome criticised the PHSO’s use of this statistic, asserting it misled Parliament....'

'14. In May 2020, the PHSO reported to the Committee that it had experienced an increase of 13 per cent in demand compared to the previous financial year. Due to the introduction of a new digital casework management system, comparisons between years were not possible. This means that the 13 per cent figure cannot be evidenced. The PHSO made no effort to proactively correct the record. If witnesses provide evidence to select committees which is later demonstrated not to be evidence, those witnesses should correct the record. This responsibility is especially applicable for bodies that are scrutinised by those select committees.'

2. Although you may have made no effort to 'proactively' correct the record, you may have corrected it. Please provide all information you hold evidencing that you corrected the record, if you did. If you corrected the record on the basis of a prompt or suggestion from any external party, please also provide relevant information.

3. If you did not correct the record, please provide all information you hold evidencing why you did not correct the record e.g. memos, emails. Please search the electronic communications of all key staff using appropriate terms, which would include 'Bruce Newsome'.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s
(PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm
we have received your request. If you have made a request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information
Regulations 2004, we aim to respond to your request within 20 working days
in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts. If you
have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your
request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions
of the Data Protection Act 2018 and we aim to respond within one calendar
month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act. We
may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if
we need to extend the time required to complete your request.

Please note that we are currently experiencing a high demand, and might
not be able to comply with the statutory deadline for your request. Any
late responses can be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office:

https://ico.org.uk/

For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via
secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the
information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure
email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you
will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as
possible. Angharad Jackson Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director
Information Assurance Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman PHSO CityGate 47-51 Mosley Street Manchester M2 3HQ
[email address]

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Regarding an article critical of the PHSO written by Dr Newsome a few years ago, one member of staff suggested that it might be best not to respond because Dr Newsome was:

"a fairly random columnist as opposed to one of their heavier hitters".

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/y... (see comment dated 19/11/2017)

PHSO might wish to reconsider.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

The comment dated 19/11/17 also includes the view of a very senior member of PHSO staff on how to combat Dr Newsomes criticisms:

"My only feedback is on the numbers. It's not that impressive quoting we investigate 4,000 of 100,000 enquiries (which is a bit of a misleading figure anyway). Could we say of the xx complaints we take a closer look at (assessment) we investigate xx or should we say something about increasing no of investigations we do ."

Note the emphasis on assessments.

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

Here is what 6 whistleblowers to the HSJ had to say about assessments:

'Exclusive: Whistleblowers expose 'toxic environment' at PHSO

Hundreds of new investigations carried out by the NHS ombudsman are “relabelled” assessments and being carried out by staff who face “unachievable” targets in a “toxic environment”, according to six whistleblowers who have spoken to HSJ.'

(You have to be a subscriber to read the full article, unfortunately.)

https://www.hsj.co.uk/policy-and-regulat...

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Can you let me know how my request is progressing? I have no wish to contact the Commissioner unnecessarily.

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

Gadawodd Nicholas Wheatley anodiad ()

David Allen Green is writing an article on the PHSO and looking for information from people who have experienced the service. Would be useful if anyone can contribute.

https://twitter.com/davidallengreen/stat...

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Scrutiny 2019–20: Government’s and PHSO response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2019–21

Appendix 2: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Response

'2. ... The Committee Chair wrote to the Ombudsman on 26 January 2021 to confirm that “the Committee was not of the opinion that you [the Ombudsman] had misled Parliament, and was clear not to make that accusation in the report”.'

https://committees.parliament.uk/publica...

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

ICO contacted

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Atodiad

Dear D Moore

 

PHSO reference FOI 139

Your request for information

 

Thank you for your correspondence of 27^th January 2021 in which you
requested information from the PHSO.

 

 

PHSO response

 

1.  Please provide the figures separately for (a)  'are not ready to be
taken forward' and (b) 'should not be taken forward'.  Additionally,
please provide all information held that explains why you chose to present
the figures in the way you did.

 

 a. In 2019/20 PHSO closed 21,967 complaints as premature or not properly
made. These closures would constitute those cases which 'are not ready
to be taken forward'.

 

 b. In 2019/20 PHSO closed 3,692 complaints with a number of other
decisions (out of remit, general discretion etc.) these would
constitute those cases which 'should not be taken forward'.  

 

 

2.  Although you may have made no effort to 'proactively' correct the
record, you may have corrected it.  Please provide all information you
hold evidencing that you corrected the record, if you did.   If you
corrected the record on the basis of a prompt or suggestion from any
external party, please also provide relevant information.

 

PHSO does not hold information relevant to this request.

 

 

3.  If you did not correct the record, please provide all information you
hold evidencing why you did not correct the record e.g. memos, emails. 
Please search the electronic communications of all key staff using
appropriate terms, which would include 'Bruce Newsome'.  

 

PHSO holds information relevant to your request. Please see attached for
the information.

 

Please note that some third party personal data is exempt under Section
40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it would contravene a data
protection principle, as so satisfies the first principle at Section
40(3)(a) of the Act.

 

PHSO considers that disclosure of the personal data of junior members of
staff would contravene principle (a) of Article 5 of the GDPR, as there is
no lawful basis for processing. The senior members of staff involved have
been named, however their direct contact details have been removed.

 

 

Right of appeal

 

If you have any queries about this response, please contact the
Information Rights Team. Please remember to quote the reference number
above in any future communications. If you are unhappy with the service
you have received in relation to your request or wish to request an
internal review, you should write to [1][email address]
and explain why you are dissatisfied.

 

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Citygate

47 – 51 Mosley Street

Manchester M2 3HQ

 

Please note that the PHSO will not normally accept an application for
internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that
the reply was issued.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision.
Generally, the Commissioner will not make a decision unless you have
exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the PHSO. The Information
Commissioner’s Office can be contacted at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[2]https://ico.org.uk/

 

Regards,

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [3][email address]

W: [4]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. https://ico.org.uk/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Could an ICO employee be dealing with your request?

'I will refer your offer of a secondment to our HR Dept who may be in contact with you to obtain further details.'

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

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

'a. In 2019/20 PHSO closed 21,967 complaints as premature or not properly made. These closures would constitute those cases which 'are not ready to be taken forward'.
 
 b. In 2019/20 PHSO closed 3,692 complaints with a number of other decisions (out of remit, general discretion etc.) these would constitute those cases which 'should not be taken forward'.

Now we can see that the category 'complaints not ready to be taken forward' includes two significant categories lumped together:

1. 'premature'; and

2. 'not properly marked'.

I can't award the Ombudsman a gold star for accountability:

'Being open and accountable

Public administration should be transparent and information should be handled as openly as the law allows.'

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/ou...

PHSO productivity - see para. 8:

https://committees.parliament.uk/publica...

Disclosure:

'Hi Rob,

Apologies for the delay in coming back to you. There are some issues with the report that we will need to pick up. I have spoken to the clerk about paragraph 14 specifically to explain that we believe it is factually inaccurate and we are likely to respond robustly for that reason. It was a good conversation and she understood our concerns but she is ultimately of the view that as the committee has signed off the report there is not an opportunity to revisit it at this point.'

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/7...