Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In response to a question from the Rt Hon David Jones MP at today's PACAC hearing, Amanda Amroliwala, PHSO Chief Executive, revealed that the PHSO dealt with 17 cases through mediation in 2019/20. She further stated that mediation is a voluntary process.

1. Please provide the names of the organisations/bodies/trusts etc that took part in mediation.

2. Please provide all information held on how the 17 cases were selected for mediation.

3. Please provide the number of complainants offered mediation who declined.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens revealed at the same hearing that between 8 and 10 members of staff work in mediation.

4. Please confirm the number of staff who work in mediation.

5. Please provide the name of the section/department/unit or whatever it is called that the mediation staff work in.

6. Please provide the job titles of all staff involved in mediation.

7. Please provide the whole time equivalent figure for hours worked by all mediation staff.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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 will
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 will be responded to 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.

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:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...

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 J Roberts anodiad ()

Ombudsman Rob Behrens referred to the 'rejuvenating' experience felt by those who took part in mediation. He further referred to the use of mediation by ombudsmen in other countries. He said he was convinced that mediation was in the public interest and that more use should be made of it.

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

I find it very hard to believe that anyone would feel 'rejuvenated' by encountering the PHSO; in fact quite the contrary: most people feel like they've aged 10 years after having any contact with the PHSO.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

M Boyce,

It's a tiny sample and we knowing nothing about how it was selected - representative?

Here are his own words on mediation:

"A profound effect in almost all the cases of the parties to the dispute in coming together having been appropriately prepared by trained mediators in our office to try and resolve issues that you can't resolve through just formal investigations. And I have a lot of feedback from participants to the process who say that they found it rejuvenating and it built their trust in the health service by being able to talk to people face-to-face and to understand the challenges that members of the health service had to face in dealing with their case."

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/42... (15:50)

It would be interesting to know if any of the complainants in the pilot had a complaint relating to an inquest. They might have great difficulty in understanding the challenges referred to by Mr Behrens:

'Figures exposing the shocking disparities in funding for legal representation between bereaved families and state bodies will be featured on BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 ‘Families versus the state: An unfair fight?’ tonight.

The programme uncovers figures showing that half of NHS mental health trusts in England spent over £4m representing themselves at inquests in 2017/18 – 34 times the total amount granted in legal aid towards families’ representation (£118k)*.

The figures are from Freedom of Information requests released by Julie’s Mental Health Foundation in partnership with INQUEST.'

https://www.inquest.org.uk/legal-aid-fil...

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Sadly, I don't trust anything the PHSO says or does, and I know I am not alone. I have nothing against the idea of mediation, just not when the PHSO are involved in it.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

PACAC 23 November 2020:

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

'Q29 Mr Jones: For clarification, that is over and above the two dozen cases you just mentioned?

Rob Behrens: No, that is part of this pilot programme. That is very important. We also have learned some important lessons for how we can apply the mediation process to our wider investigation process, so that there is read across between mediation and investigation, which I think is very important. I am now confident that we can go into the position of incorporating this mediation process into business as usual and expand the team, which is quite small at the moment. There are between eight and 10 people in the team, all of whom have been fully trained. As is done in European ombudsman services and the United States, we can make this a significant part of the way in which we create resolutions. I think it is very significantly important.

Q30 Mr Jones:It is quite a small sample, though, isn’t it?'

Gadawodd liz perloff anodiad ()

I’m always amazed that the Ombuds manages to keep a straight face during the PACAC annual PHSO scrutiny. If mediation in PHSO actually exists. Because in my experience, the success of PHSO KPI are figments of PHSO management imaginations coupled with percentages drawn out of a lottery machine .

So, if and this is a big if. The ombuds claims 8-10 people been trained to perform 12 mediations? Is that not a little bit of overkill?

Or was the ombuds confusing mediation with medication?

Gadawodd liz perloff anodiad ()

my training to be the next Ombuds is complete, as i can successfully and confidentially confuse 12 and 24 (1 dozen & 2 dozen)

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts,

 

RE: Your information request: FOI94

 

I write in response to your email to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO) 23 November 2020 requesting information under the Freedom
of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

 

Request:

In response to a question from the Rt Hon David Jones MP at today's PACAC
hearing, Amanda Amroliwala, PHSO Chief Executive, revealed that the PHSO
dealt with 17 cases through mediation in 2019/20. She further stated that
mediation is a voluntary process.

1.   Please provide the names of the organisations/bodies/trusts etc that
took part in mediation.

2.   Please provide all information held on how the 17 cases were selected
for mediation.

3.   Please provide the number of complainants offered mediation who
declined.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens revealed at the same hearing that between 8 and 10
members of staff work in mediation.

4.   Please confirm the number of staff who work in mediation.

5.   Please provide the name of the section/department/unit or whatever it
is called that the mediation staff work in.

6.   Please provide the job titles of all staff involved in mediation.

7.   Please provide the whole time equivalent figure for hours worked by
all mediation staff.

 

Response:

I shall respond to each question raised below:

 

1.  Our investigations are conducted in private and to release this
information would be giving away third party information. Therefore, this
is exempt under Section 40(2) of the FOI Act.

 

2.  Our investigations are conducted in private and to release this
information would be giving away third party information. Therefore, this
is exempt under Section 40(2) of the FOI Act.

 

3.  This information is not recorded.  In order to address your question
in full it would involve manual inspection of each case to identify this. 
To complete this would be extremely labour-intensive exercise which could
not be undertaken without incurring disproportionate cost. Section 12(1)
of the Act has therefore been applied to this element of your request.

Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

·    Section 12(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a
request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of
complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.

To process your request we estimate it would take more than the cost limit
which is set at £450.

 

4.  Currently there are 6 Caseworkers and 2 Operation Managers.  The
Operation Managers are also responsible for Caseworkers in the Early
Consideration Team.

 

5.  The staff work in our Early Dispute Resolution Team which is part of
Intake and Resolutions in Operations.

 

6.  The titles are Caseworker and Operations Manager.

 

7.  Members of staff in the Early Dispute Resolution Team work our
standard 36 hours a week. They complete assessments and investigations as
well as mediations and will decide with the parties involved which is the
most appropriate process for their complaint.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review. You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[1][PHSO request email] . You will need to specify that the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk ) or seek a judicial remedy.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [3]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[PHSO request email]
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

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 'PACAC question re mediation in 2019/20'.

It is my first request that I wish you to review:

'1.   Please provide the names of the organisations/bodies/trusts etc that took part in mediation.'

You engaged exemption 40(2) FOIA. Section 40(2) FOIA does indeed relate to third person data, but my first request did not ask for the names of any individuals.

ICO guidance:

'Part 1: Is the request for personal data?

You first need to determine whether the requested information constitutes personal data, as defined by the DPA.

“Personal data” means any information relating to an identified or identifiable living individual.

“Identifiable living individual” means a living individual who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to -

(a) an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data or an online identifier, or

(b) one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of the individual.'

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

It may be that you believe someone could be identified from the name of the organisation concerned; if so, please provide further details.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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 will 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 will be responded to 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. 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]

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

PHSO reference FOI 94
Internal review of your request for information

Thank you for your correspondence of 17th December 2020 in which you requested an internal review from the PHSO.

PHSO response

Request:

On 23rd November 2020 you requested the following information:

“In response to a question from the Rt Hon David Jones MP at today's PACAC hearing, Amanda Amroliwala, PHSO Chief Executive, revealed that the PHSO dealt with 17 cases through mediation in 2019/20. She further stated that mediation is a voluntary process.

1. Please provide the names of the organisations/bodies/trusts etc that took part in mediation.
2. Please provide all information held on how the 17 cases were selected for mediation.
3. Please provide the number of complainants offered mediation who declined. Ombudsman Rob Behrens revealed at the same hearing that between 8 and 10 members of staff work in mediation.
4. Please confirm the number of staff who work in mediation.
5. Please provide the name of the section/department/unit or whatever it is called that the mediation staff work in.
6. Please provide the job titles of all staff involved in mediation.
7. Please provide the whole time equivalent figure for hours worked by all mediation staff.”

Response to your request:

On 17th December 2020 PHSO responded to your request as summarised:

1. Refused the request under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as that disclosure would unfairly disclose third party personal data.

2. Refused the request under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as that disclosure would unfairly disclose third party personal data.

3. Refused the request under Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as complying with the request would exceed the appropriate cost limit.

4. Provided the relevant held information.

5. Provided the relevant held information.

6. Provided the relevant held information.

7. Provided the relevant held information.

Time for response:

The request was received on the 23rd November 2020 and responded to on 17th December 2020. This is within the 20 working day requirement set as Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Request for an internal review:

On 17th December 2020 you requested an internal review of the handling of your request:

“It is my first request that I wish you to review:

'1. Please provide the names of the organisations/bodies/trusts etc that took part in mediation.'

You engaged exemption 40(2) FOIA. Section 40(2) FOIA does indeed relate to third person data, but my first request did not ask for the names of any individuals.”

Review of your request:

I uphold your review of the request. PHSO incorrectly applied Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and you are correct that no personal data came within the scope of the request. Please accept my apologies for this error.

However, PHSO is withholding the relevant information under Section 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as the information is exempt by another enactment. The information is held in PHSO complaint files and so it is covered by the legislation regarding PHSO’s official function to investigate complaints.

Under Section 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 information is exempt from disclosure if it is prohibited by or under any enactment. Section 11(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 and Section 15(1) of the Health Service Commissioner's Act 1993 states that information obtained for the purposes of an investigation shall not be disclosed unless one of three conditions is met. None of which can be met by a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (see guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office).

Please note that Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is an absolute exemption, and so there is no requirement to consider the balance of the public interest in disclosure.

Right of appeal

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

https://ico.org.uk/

Regards,

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

Gadawodd Brenda Prentice anodiad ()

If only PHSO showed as much diligence to investigating case as it does to avoiding answering legitimate questions, what a wonderful world it would be.

Gadawodd D. Moore anodiad ()

Email sent by Rob Behrens on 12/12/20:

"MPs’ involvement in mediation

During the hearing, the Committee asked a number of questions about PHSO’s use of mediation to resolve complaints to the satisfaction of both complainants and the organisations complained about. In particular, Mr Russell-Moyle asked whether MPs could be more closely involved in the mediation of any complaints they refer to PHSO.

I would welcome the Committee’s perspectives on how MPs and their offices may wish to participate in mediation so we can consider how this fits with the model that we currently use. For instance, would Committee members see MPs’ offices’ role as supporting their constituents through the mediation process, or would MPs’ offices wish to participate actively in mediation meetings where this may be relevant? This is an area we would be happy to explore with Parliament as part of the next Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) process to see how the training we are developing for our own staff could be extended to MPs’ offices.

This may indeed fit within the scope of the Academy of Learning Project that we had hoped to begin next year, but in light of the constraints imposed by HM Treasury for 2021-22, will instead be revisiting as part of our plans for the next 3-year CSR,assuming that proceeds next year as the Government has indicated.

In the interim, we are developing a number of resources to share some of the key techniques and approaches used in mediation with casework staff more widely. While most of these resources are specific to PHSO’s casework process, we could explore the possibility of making the relevant elements of these resources available to MPs and their staff in future. This may also depend on the Committee’s views on MPs’ offices’ potential role in mediation."

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