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2016/17 Annual Report and complaints about yourselves

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I see you have published your Annual Report for 2016/17:

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

"In the business year 2016-17, we handled 676 formal complaints about our service, compared to 593 in the previous year. We upheld 394 of the formal service complaints we looked at and took action to put things right. This could include an apology or an explanation, or if someone complains about having waited too long, prioritising action." P16

1. Please provide recorded statistical information on the 676 formal service complaints you handled. Specify the categories of complaint (eg delay, missing post, poor call handling) and provide accompanying figures.

2. Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, please specify how many relate to the single member of staff who received the most complaints.

"During 2016-17, six internal audit reviews were considered by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee. There was additionally an advisory audit on review processes and complaints about us." P 44

3. Please provide a copy of the advisory audit on review processes and complaints.

In the business year 2015/16 you received 1,969 requests for review (a figure which excluded complaints about your service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints). I have not seen a comparable figure in you Annual Report for 2016/17.

4. Please provide the number of requests for review you received in the business year 2016/16 (excluding complaints about your service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints).

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

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


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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The fourth part of my request should read:

4. Please provide the number of requests for review you received in the business year 2016/17 (excluding complaints about your service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints).

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

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


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Moore,

 

Thank you for your email of 28 July 2017 requesting information under the
Freedom of Information Act 1998 (FOIA).   I apologise for the delay in
responding. Your exact request was:

 

“1. Please provide recorded statistical information on the 676 formal
service complaints you handled.  Specify the categories of complaint (eg
delay, missing post, poor call handling) and provide accompanying figures.

2.  Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, please specify how many
relate to the single member of staff who received the most complaints. 

""During 2016-17, six internal audit reviews were considered by the Audit
and Risk Assurance Committee. There was additionally an advisory audit on
review processes and complaints about us."" P 44

3.  Please provide a copy of the advisory audit on review processes and
complaints.

In the business year 2015/16 you received 1,969 requests for review (a
figure which excluded complaints about your service, post review
correspondence and longstanding complaints).  I have not seen a comparable
figure in you Annual Report for 2016/17. 

4.  Please provide the number of requests for review you received in the
business year 2016/17 (excluding complaints about your service, post
review correspondence and longstanding complaints). "

 

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) does not hold
recorded information in the format requested.

 

As you know, in 2016-17 we received a total of 3,426 complaints; 676
formal service complaints and 394 of these were upheld but we do not hold
information relating to the theme/caseworker data requested.

 

To provide you with the requested information, we would need to review the
entire 3,426 complaints received in 2016-17 and extract the information
requested. We estimate that to carry out a manual search would take us
over the appropriate limit of 2.5 working days. The appropriate limit for
the cost of complying with a Freedom of Information request is set out at
section 3 of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate
Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, and for the PHSO the amount is £450 (18
hours x £25). Therefore I have refused your request in line with section
12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

If you are unhappy with the way I have handled your information request it
is open to you to request an internal review.  You can do this by sending
an email to [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email].  You will need to
specify what 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).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Sarah Otto

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

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

 

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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 '2016/17 Annual Report and complaints about yourselves'.

You have not provided me with any section 16 FOIA advice and assistance on how my request could be refined or modified so that it might fall within cost limits.

In response to part 4 of my request:

"4.  Please provide the number of requests for review you received in the business year 2016/17 (excluding complaints about your service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints)."

You wrote:

"The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) does not hold recorded information in the format requested."

In response to an FOI request from another requester you disclosed:

"I can confirm in the business year 2015/16 we received 1969 requests for review (to be clear this figure excludes complaints about our service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints)."

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

It is not apparent to me why you are unable to provide the information given that you have previously provided similar information.

In response to part 3 of my request:

"During 2016-17, six internal audit reviews were considered by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee. There was additionally an advisory audit on review processes and complaints about us. P 44

3.  Please provide a copy of the advisory audit on review processes and complaints."

You did not provide a copy of the advisory audit. In response, you merely copied what I wrote. You added nothing. You didn't even tell me why I couldn't have a copy.

To assist me narrow part 2 of my request:

"2.  Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, please specify how many relate to the single member of staff who received the most complaints."

Please provide details on how a manual search would be conducted to ascertain the information I have requested. Is it possible to conduct a manual search alphabetically? Could a search be conducted, for example, of, say, officers surnames beginning with the letters A,B,C and D?

Where information on formal service complaints is held on computer, please provide relevant blank screenshots showing all possible fields available to officers to record information related to formal service complaints.

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything clarified.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

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


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear D. Moore,

 

Internal Review response for FDN-274715

 

I write further to your email of 13 September 20017 requesting an internal
review of your Freedom of information (FOI) request -our FDN-274715. I
have reconsidered your request and set out the outcome under the headings
below.

 

i.             Timeliness of request

We received your information request on 28 July 2017 and the statutory
deadline for responding was 25 August 2017.  We did not respond until 12
September 2017- 12 working days after you should have received a
response.  Our failure to respond within 20 working days was in breach of
section 10(1) of the FOI Act 2000 which sets out the time for compliance. 
Please accept our apologies for this failing and for any inconvenience
caused.

 

ii.           Application of section 12

As you are already aware, the FOI Act allows a public authority to refuse
to comply with a request if doing so will exceed the FOI appropriate limit
(section 12 of the FOI Act 2000).  This limit is set at 18 hours.   In
refusing your entire request we were guided by the Information
Commissioner’s (ICO) publication on section 12.   The ICO [1]guidance on
section 12 considers that it is good practice for authorities to avoid
providing information found as a result of searching and claiming section
12 for the remainder of the information.  The Commissioner recognises that
authorities take this approach “with the intention of being helpful but it
ultimately denies the requestor the right to express a preference as to
which part or parts of the request they may wish to receive which can be
provided under the appropriate limit. Please see paragraph 31 of the
guidance.  I am therefore satisfied that in this instance, it was proper
to refuse your entire request instead of replying to parts and refusing
other parts.

 

iii.         Advice and Assistance

The PHSO has a duty to provide assistance and advice under section 16,
however this duty is “only in so far as it would be reasonable to expect”
us to do so.   If we do not consider that it is reasonable to provide
advice and assistance then not doing so will not breach the provisions of
section 16. As you may already be aware, the FOI code of practice and ICO
[2]guidance both provide suggestions on how to offer assistance however it
is up to the public authority to decide on the best way of providing such
assistance based on the circumstances in question.   I have reconsidered
your request with a view to seeing if it would have been reasonable to
provide advice and assistance.  The Customer Care Team (CCT) and the
Management Information Team, who both compiled the data for the report,
have advised that the data that was used for the report was not retained. 
As such we would have to replicate the process in order to collate the
information you have requested.

 

I can tell you that we have a list of the 676 service complaints handled
and 394 of those were upheld but we do not hold the theme/caseworker data
requested. 3,306 complaints were received but we cannot say what type of
complaints they were (i.e. if they were longstanding, post review etc.)
without looking at each case on the system or on trackers the CCT use.  We
would therefore need to have someone go over each case of the 3,306 cases
and then match it to the tracker for the themes and then work out the
caseworker on each one. Due to the amount of manual work involved in
complying, a decision was made to refuse your request and I am satisfied
that this decision was in compliance with the Act. 

 

I do however consider that we should have explained this better and made
it clear that we could not offer any advice and assistance that would
enable you refine your request.  This is due to the nature of your request
which is so specific there really was no way we could suggest to you how
you could go about wording it differently. 

 

iv.          Further information

You have asked specific questions in your review request which I have
treated as refined requests and have responded to below. As mentioned
above I consider that it was proper to refuse your entire request as
opposed to refusing some and replying to others. 

 

"2. Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, please specify how many
relate to the single member of staff who received the most complaints.

Please provide details on how a manual search would be conducted to
ascertain the information I have requested.  Is it possible to conduct a
manual search alphabetically?  Could a search be conducted, for example,
of, say, officers surnames beginning with the letters A,B,C and D?  

Where information on formal service complaints is held on computer, please
provide relevant blank screenshots showing all possible fields available
to officers to record  information related to formal service
complaints.”  

 

Response:  Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, 32 relate to the
member of staff who received the most complaints.

 

 

“3. You did not provide a copy of the advisory audit.  In response, you
merely copied what I wrote.  You added nothing.   You didn't even tell me
why I couldn't have a copy.”

 

Response:  Please find attached the report with personal data removed in
line with section 40(2) of the FOIA.  Personal information can be withheld
under Section 40(2) if its disclosure will contravene the first data
protection principle which requires that personal data is processed fairly
and lawfully. Personal information is governed by the Data Protection Act
1998 (DPA) and is defined as any data which relate to a living individual
who can be identified from those data, or from those data and other
information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the
possession of, the data controller.  Disclosure of the requested
information would breach the 1^st data protection principle and in
particular the requirement of fairness because the individuals whose
details have been removed have a reasonable expectation of privacy and
would not expect this information to be released in response to a freedom
of information request.

 

Conclusion

For the reasons set out above, I have concluded that our failure to
respond within deadline breached the Freedom of Information Act.  However
I do not consider that we breached our obligations under section 16 and
for this reason I partly uphold your complaint. 

 

I hope this now satisfactorily concludes your request.  If you remain
dissatisfied with our handling of your request, it is open to you to
complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office ([3]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Sincerely,

 

 

T. Akindele         

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

T: 0300 061 4006

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

 

From: D. Moore [mailto:[FOI #421566 email]]
Sent: 13 September 2017 12:55
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - 2016/17
Annual Report and complaints about yourselves

 

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 '2016/17 Annual Report and
complaints about yourselves'.

You have not provided me with any section 16 FOIA advice and assistance on
how my request could be refined or modified so that it might fall within
cost limits.   

In response to part 4 of my request:

"4.  Please provide the number of requests for review you received in the
business year 2016/17 (excluding complaints about your service, post
review correspondence and longstanding complaints)."

You wrote:

"The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) does not hold
recorded information in the format requested."

In response to an FOI request from another requester you disclosed:

"I can confirm in the business year 2015/16 we received 1969 requests for
review (to be clear this figure excludes complaints about our service,
post review correspondence and longstanding complaints)."

[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

It is not apparent to me why you are unable to provide the information
given that you have previously provided similar information.

In response to part 3 of my request:

"During 2016-17, six internal audit reviews were considered by the Audit
and Risk Assurance Committee. There was additionally an advisory audit on
review processes and complaints about us. P 44

3.  Please provide a copy of the advisory audit on review processes and
complaints."

You did not provide a copy of the advisory audit.  In response, you merely
copied what I wrote.  You added nothing.   You didn't even tell me why I
couldn't have a copy.

To assist me narrow part 2 of my request:

"2.  Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, please specify how many
relate to the single member of staff who received the most complaints."

Please provide details on how a manual search would be conducted to
ascertain the information I have requested.  Is it possible to conduct a
manual search alphabetically?  Could a search be conducted, for example,
of, say, officers surnames beginning with the letters A,B,C and D?  

Where information on formal service complaints is held on computer, please
provide relevant blank screenshots showing all possible fields available
to officers to record  information related to formal service complaints.  

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything clarified. 

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

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D. Moore left an annotation ()

'Response: Of the 394 formal service complaints upheld, 32 relate to the member of staff who received the most complaints.'

8% of all formal service complaints relate to one member of staff.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

I forgot to include the word 'upheld' - 'formal service complaints UPHELD'.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

I don't know why they can't give you the total number of review requests following the decision as they gave it out on this request.
In 2015-16 there were 1,969 review requests concerning the decision. PHSO reviewed 218 (11%) and upheld 19 (0.9%)

In 2016 - 17 there were actually 383 more review requests for decisions with the total of decision reviews at 2,352. . Even more people dissatisfied yet PHSO reviewed only 81 (3.4%) and upheld 15 (0.6%) . Without putting the total number of review requests in the Annual Report they then try to use the lower figure to argue that their service has improved at all levels when the data show the absolute opposite. More dissatisfaction. How can they be trusted?
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Very strange:

"3,306 complaints were received but we cannot say what type of complaints they were (i.e. if they were longstanding, post review etc.)"

But I like this part:

"3,306 complaints were received". Clarity. Let's call a complaint a complaint and not a request for a review!

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Two figures are given in that response for total complaints. Further up they give the figure 3,426. Their sums never add up.

I was interested to see at the bottom of page 3 in the audit report that the award-winning customer care team have no system for monitoring learning from complaints. So what is the point?

M Boyce left an annotation ()

The more anyone delves into the devious and disgusting workings of the PHSO you quickly begin to realise what a thoroughly rotten organisation it is, from the very top to the very bottom, and any pretence of fairness is just that - pretence.
The PHSO's use of euphemisms is a really bad joke. When you receive your inevitably not upheld Draft Report, after waiting a year or more, the cretin, sorry dog handler, or is that case handler, then asks for your COMMENTS? The PHSO are not really offering you an opportunity to appeal their decision; if they were they would say so. So you send your comments (attempted appeal) to PHSO. And who looks at these comments? Yes, none other than the dog handler who made the decision in the first place. It's like asking a student to mark their own exams - there is only ever going to be one outcome: A stars all round for the PHSO. Then you receive your inevitably not upheld Final Decision. Then you can provide FEEDBACK (attempted appeal) to the Customer Care Team. This CCT is none other than, wait for it, your original dog handler masquerading as someone who cares. Gold stars all round PHSO.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

That's about right. When you are provided (by government) with immunity from accountability you can act with impunity - and it does.

C Rock left an annotation ()

This FOI website shows that enquiries relating to PHSO service and complaints thereof have been prevalent and a growing concern since mid-late 2009. I strongly suspect that this is due to the PHSO refusing point blank to deal with any service complaints through normal and private correspondence showing due respect for complainant and their vulnerable position in (a) having suffered (potentially) severe injustice limiting their ability to obtain and present case facts cogently, (b) has had little experience (or want) to previously pursue serious complaint above the original level, and/or (b) had (naturally, or as a result) not the 'wherewithal' to see through the obstacles and smokescreens presented, or renew themselves to tackle incoherent and obfuscating PHSO responses.

If the PHSO is having difficulty in answering these FOI questions it is brought on him/herself. That's at the public cost of (a) public monetary waste in supporting an unfit process ; (b) the add-on cost in health impact on the complainant as they are worn down in a process taking many years to progress; and (c) the add-on cost of missed opportunities to improve public services - and in the case of say the NHS that cost is further injury and deaths potentially avoided if LAY caseworkers had given it the simplest of consideration.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Well said Colin. Everyone knows that this service doesn't deliver. Everyone including those who work at PHSO and continually try to jam their heads in the sand. We are not prepared to stand by passively and witness our own injustice. We will fight back and continue to fight back.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

When you know you are immune, what does it matter? Who Cares.
Up to us to make them care, and we will......

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"3,306 complaints were received but we cannot say what type of complaints they were (i.e. if they were longstanding, post review etc.)"

To put the figure of 3,306 complaints about the PHSO in context:

"We investigate around 4,000 complaints a year and uphold, in full or in part, around 40%."

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-comp...

It would appear that a great proportion of complainants are unhappy with the outcome of PHSO investigations.

Dear InformationRights,

In response to the following:

'Where information on formal service complaints is held on computer, please provide relevant blank screenshots showing all possible fields available to officers to record information related to formal service complaints. '

You wrote:

'Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything clarified.'

I would like the screenshots, please.

Yours sincerely,

D. Moore

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


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear D Moore,

 

I write further to your email of 15 November 2017 which reads:

 

“In response to the following:

'Where information on formal service complaints is held on computer,
please provide relevant blank screenshots showing all possible fields
available to officers to record  information related to formal service
complaints. '

 

You wrote:

'Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need anything clarified.'

 

I would like the screenshots, please.

 

Response

 

I will start by clarifying that in response to your request for blank
screenshots, we did not say “Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need
anything clarified.” This sentence formed part of your email of 13
September 2017 requesting a review of the response you received.    I did
not consider it was necessary to address your request for screenshots
because we provided the requested information as part of the review
response.

 

I can however confirm that this information is not held.  I have been
advised that in order to provide you blank screenshots, we will have to
create a dummy case in order to bring up all the relevant screens that
will show the possible fields available to officers to record  information
related to formal service complaints.  Although the FOIA gives you a right
of access to information we hold, we are not obliged to create new
information in order to respond to an information request.

 

This now concludes your request.

 

Sincerely,

 

T. Akindele         

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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