phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Members of our group are keen to locate up-to-date board meeting minutes. PHSO has stated on numerous occasions that it seeks to be transparent, however, the recording of board meeting minutes on their website is both haphazard and incomplete.

The board meeting minutes are not listed in chronological order, with the most recent at the start of the search. The first result is actually from January 2016 and the meetings are then posted randomly from different years resulting in much searching to find the most recent.

June 2020 was listed at least three pages into the search and appears to be the most recent addition. It must surely be the case that the board has met at least once more in this 8 month period?

1. I am requesting a link to the most recent board meeting minutes.

2. I am requesting information regarding the number of board meetings carried out in 2020.

3. I am requesting information regarding the number of board meetings planned for 2021.

4. I am requesting information on how long it takes PHSO to sign off and publish board meeting minutes.

5. I am requesting that PHSO prioritise the way in which board meeting minutes are published on their website in order to ensure transparency in the future.

Yours faithfully,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group

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
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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 ()

Good request. The last minutes I saw were dated 9 July 2020:

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

Gadawodd phsothefacts Pressure Group anodiad ()

The meeting minutes are all jumbled up and out of date.

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Absolutely.

Sadly, however, the Minutes that are released are very likely to be highly edited. Transparency is not a word the PHSO are familiar with.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

The minutes for October have appeared very recently.

'14.1 The Board received a summary report from the Quality Committee meeting on 19 September 2020'

'15.1 The Board received a summary report from the ARAC [Audit and Risk Assurance Committee] meeting on 16 September 2020.'

'18.1 The Board received an update report on the Business Plan and Equality Action Plan up to July 2020 (P4)'

'19.1 The Board received a report for July 2020 (P4) setting out the analysis of current strategic risks and issues, the mitigations in place, and the position against risk tolerances.'

The reports we don't get to see.

'18.2 Board members noted that the status of the Clinical Advice Project was now amber and asked for more information about the alternative approach. The Ombudsman assured the Board that we are still committed to fully implementing this project.'

The minutes refer to future meetings for 17/12/20 and 24/3/21.

Jan 2020

'3.6 Alan Graham asked about external perceptions of the organisation and whether these had changed. Amanda Amroliwala said that there remained a small group of vocal and challenging critics who were unlikely to ever be supportive. However, we had made good progress in terms of our standing with other regulators, the bodies we investigate, and with the wider Ombudsman community.'

This may be the 'small group' Ms Amroliwala was referring to:

https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.om...

I'm not sure complainants will be pleased to learn that the PHSO has 'made good progress in terms of our standing with...the bodies we investigate.'

Was the PHSO ever in poor standing with them?

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

June 2020 minutes:

'15.4 Board members asked that future reports should include more from people within the organisation –or at least visuals of our staff. Visuals will be added.'

I hope they are good!

'16.2 It was apparent that many Board members felt that more ‘open spaces’ were needed for discussion of strategic matters outside of formal Board meetings.

•New policies could be discussed with groups of non-executive members outside of the formal Board setting.

•It would be interesting to get the views of others (non-Board members) who attended Board meetings.

•The Board needed more space for external voices.'

Will this mean less transparency?

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Where did you find the October 2020 Board Minutes J Roberts? I have searched the jumbled Minutes on the PHSO website and cannot find them.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

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

They were added within the past few days.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Excellent. Thanks.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

'Transparency is not a word the PHSO are familiar with.'

I agree. The minutes are of limited worth. Some other sources of information.

'Call for more transparency at Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

25 January 2021

'The PACAC Chair, William Wragg MP, said:

... It is essential that people have faith in a transparent, effective organisation. The current out-dated legislation undermines this crucial ambition”.'

https://committees.parliament.uk/committ...

'Oral evidence: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Scrutiny 2019-20, HC 843

Monday 23 November 2020'

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

Pacac report:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm...

'Oral evidence: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Scrutiny 2018-19, HC 117

Monday 18 May 2020'

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

'Written evidence from Dr Bruce Oliver Newsome1 (PHSO 02)

October 2020'

https://committees.parliament.uk/written...

Gadawodd phsothefacts Pressure Group anodiad ()

There is no trust in this organisation and no transparency. Interesting to see that numbers of complaints to PHSO are actually falling as people realise it is a waste of time.

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

Info. re complaints:

21. There is also confusion about how many new complaints the PHSO has received in the financial year. The PHSO’s annual report and accounts asserts that in total the PHSO “handled 30,895 complaints compared with 29,841 last year”. This included cases recorded in the previous year and new complaints recorded in 2020 (28,103). However, this information explains only how many complaints were handled; it provides no information on how many complaints have actually been received in total in the financial year. Indeed, in his letter of 12 October 2020, Rob Behrens said the PHSO had in fact received 31,365 new complaints in that financial year. Amanda Amroliwala confirmed this was another area that the PHSO was looking at when examining the data provided in the annual report and accounts.

22. The PHSO should report in its annual report and accounts the number of new enquiries and complaints that have been received in that financial year. This number is separate from the number of enquiries and complaints that the PHSO has “handled” in that same financial year.'

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm...

There is an awful lot of confusion!

Jan. minutes

'3.15 Abigail Howarth said that, at any one time we had about 9,000 live cases in our system. Of those, usually around 30 would be classified as high risk.Our resources had to be focused towards dealing with our wider caseload.'

June minutes

'11.1 Abigail Howarth presented the Operational Performance sections of the report and highlighted the following key points:

• The increase in demand during the first half of the year had been reflected in a rise in cases progressed through casework teams throughout the year.

• At the end of the year there were 1,104 unallocated complaints, an increase of 205 cases since the end of P10. The increase was largely as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

• At the end of May the number of unallocated cases was down to 581 but is expected to rise again when we recommence taking new health cases.

• The number of cases currently allocated to caseworkers has increased. However, our capacity to progress cases has been reduced by approximately one third.

• Work on Parliamentary cases is continuing as normal.'

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

The minutes of October 2020 refer to a board meeting scheduled for 24 March 2021, the day before the government's response to Pacac's report on the PHSO is due:

https://committees.parliament.uk/committ...

Link to Pacac report:

https://committees.parliament.uk/committ...

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Yes the Government's response to PACAC is DUE BY the 25 March 2021, but it is likely that the Government will not respond at all.
They didn't respond to the last PACAC report and Michael Gove has made it very clear that the Government have no interest whatsoever in PHSO reform or the complaints that people bring to it.
PACAC themselves said that the Government should not treat the much needed reform of the PHSO as a 'trifling matter', but that is exactly what they are doing.

Gadawodd phsothefacts Pressure Group anodiad ()

The response to this request is overdue. It would appear that the Ombudsman is 'overwhelmed' by complaints and issuing a statement that complainants could have to wait several months for a response. https://davidhencke.com/2021/02/21/parli...
Complainants always have to wait several months for a response and several more for a resolution unless they are culled within 7 days by the rapid response team who man the telephones. Perhaps Mr Behrens should take a leaf out of the Financial Ombudsman's book and resign. https://debtcamel.co.uk/fos-ceo-wayman-r...

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The response to this request is overdue. I would appreciate some attention to this matter as I know that a number of people are waiting for this information.

Yours faithfully,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear D Reynolds,

 

Thank you for submitting a request for information to PHSO.

 

Please note that the Information Rights Team is currently experiencing a
high demand for its services, and is not able to comply with the statutory
deadline for your request. Please accept our apologies for this. We will
respond to your request as soon we can.

 

We have notified the Information Commissioner’s Office about this issue.
However, should you wish you may refer your own request to the Information
Commissioner’s Office. Details on how to do so can be found at the
following website:

 

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

 

Regards,

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [2][PHSO request email]

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

 

References

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https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url...

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

If you look on the PACAC website it shows that the Government's (Michael Gove's) response to the last PACAC scrutiny Report is delayed.

in the Report PACAC accused the Government of not taking complaints to the PHSO seriously. How right they were.

In the Covid-19 Report by PACAC they also accuse Michael Gove of being CONTEMPTUOUS of Parliament - their word, not mine. If I used a word like that I'd be locked-up for being vexatious.

I will email PACAC today to ask them to chase-up Gove's response to the PHSO Scrutiny Report.

The Government don't care about PHSO complainants and neither does the PHSO.

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

The clerk of PACAC emailed me today and stated the following:

'The PHSO is an independent body. Therefore it responds to the reports from the Committee, unless there are recommendations specifically aimed at the Government, such as bringing forward legislation.

You’re right, the response was due with the Committee today. The Committee will consider anything submitted at its next meeting, which will be after the Easter recess. The response from the PHSO and the Govt will be published as a special report.'

So, neither the PHSO nor the Government have bothered to respond, and PACAC are really not that bothered either. They won't chase-up a response from either the PHSO or the Government.

Why bother with scrutiny meetings and reports if nobody is interested?

Gadawodd J Roberts anodiad ()

M Boyce,

You were right about no response likely by the due date.

Michael Gove referred 10 cases to the PHSO in 2017/18:

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

Only 4 in 2018/19 (row 416):

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

I can't find figures for 2019/20. The PHSO will soon have the figures for 2020/21.

Gadawodd M Boyce anodiad ()

Yes J Roberts, Michael Gove did refer cases to the PHSO and the irony of this cannot be lost on him. He regards the PHSO as a waste of time (of that he may well be right), but if he and the Government weren't so lazy they could provide the much needed reform of the PHSO - which includes removing the MP filter, thereby freeing up more time for Michael and his chums to do other more 'important' things.

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear InformationRights,

I would like to request an internal review of this request. Much of this information would already be held by PHSO and it would take little time to respond with it. Please provide the information which is available at your earliest opportunity and explain why the request cannot be met in full.

There is absolutely no point in referring this matter to ICO as they also have a massive backlog of complaints and rarely find in favour of the citizen even if you have the patience to suffer the process.
Yours sincerely,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group