We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are J Roberts please sign in and let everyone know.

Changes to investigations and their start times

J Roberts made this Freedom of Information 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.

We're waiting for J Roberts to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am interested in information on the changes you have implemented to your investigations:

The Warrington and Halton Hall Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Board minutes dated 27 November 2019 included an item 'Learning From Experience Report Q2'. On page 26 of the report it states:

“Complainants dissatisfied with the Trust’s response have the right to ask the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to consider their complaint. The PHSO will consider the complaint file, medical records and any other relevant information as necessary. The PHSO may decide not to investigate further and no further action will be required from the Trust. Alternatively, recommendations might be made for the Trust to consider. The PHSO may decide to conduct a full investigation which might result in the Trust being required to make an apology, pay compensation and / or produce an action plan to describe what actions are planned to rectify the situation and prevent further occurrences.

NOTE: The PHSO have changed how they investigate complaints and when investigations start; therefore previous graphical data may have changed in this report”.

https://www.whh.nhs.uk/application/files...

1. Please provide details of the changes you have implemented to your investigations as well as information on your rationale for changing the start date of investigations (this information may be contained in board minutes detailing the decisions related to the changes).

2. Please also provide all information held relating to any assessment you have made or consideration you have given to how the changes, including the revised start times, have affected your work.

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]

J Roberts left an annotation ()

On page 30 of the report it states:

“There continues to be a low number of complaints being referred to the PHSO and Trust continues to try and resolve all concerns locally at the Trust."

https://www.whh.nhs.uk/application/files...

This decline might be due in part to a greater awareness on the part of complainants as to how the PHSO deals with complaints. For example:

The case studies included in the well-reviewed book by PHSO the Facts (all 5 star reviews on Amazon):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-point-Omb...

The handling of Nic Hart's complaint by the PHSO and the Ombudsman's apology (a matter raised at the PACAC scrutiny committee hearing in May of this year):

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

The highly critical reviews of the PHSO on Trustpilot:

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

The small number of complaints upheld by the PHSO:

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

The failure to keep complainants personal details secure (the details of 5,300 individuals were published online in one of the largest ever PHSO data breaches):

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

Expert analysis of the organisation by PHSO the Facts:

https://phsothetruestory.com/

https://phsothetruestory.com/

The questionable methods used by the PHSO to get positive feedback (see comment dated 25 July 2020 which relates to a determination on the part of a senior PHSO employee to act in a way which would call into question the fairness of any satisfaction survey):

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

We may never know why a 'low number' of complaints is being referred to the PHSO from the hospital. But according the BBC:

"Each year the NHS receives more than 10,000 new claims for compensation.

This figure includes all current unsettled claims and projected estimates of ones in the future.

The Department of Health has pledged to tackle "the unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence".

Estimates published last year put the total cost of outstanding compensation claims at £83bn.

NHS England's total budget in 2018-19 was £129bn.

The Association of Personal Injuries Lawyers believes the cost is driven by failures in patient safety."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51180944

Perhaps more people are seeing the PHSO route as futile.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'NOTE: The PHSO have changed how they investigate complaints and when investigations start; therefore previous graphical data may have changed in this report.'

Changing when investigations start would seem to have implications for how long they last.

PACAC - Second Report of Session 2019–21

'The time taken to close cases

13. The PHSO’s written evidence further contends that it is “closing enquiries and complaints more quickly. In 2018–19 it took us an average of 158 days to close a case. From April to December 2019–20, we closed cases in an average of 140.8 days.” However, this performance nonetheless represents an increase in the average time to close cases, as it took 135 days in 2016–17 and 132 days in 2017–18.'

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

Things not looking good for the PHSO. Maybe another change in start times would help the figures.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

How the PHSO was managing in 2014 (Board minutes):

“8.3 PHSO has delivered significant reductions in the time it takes to undertake investigations (an average of 301 days in April 2013, 141 days in January 2014. However, duration remains beyond reasonable expectations.”

(the document pages are not numbered sequentially, but according to page number of the document reader it is 80)

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

A fall of 160 days on average to undertake an investigation. Achieved within 8 months. Amazing!

J Roberts left an annotation ()

An extract from an email sent by Ombudsman Rob Behrens to William Wragg MP on 20 July 2020:

'Raising standards

We have continued to develop the skills and professionalism of staff through offering training and development opportunities to meet new quality standards for casework.

We are making increasing numbers of decisions without the need for a detailed investigation. We have developed our capacity for mediation, enablingus tofacilitate conversations between complainants and bodies in jurisdiction.'

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

It would be interesting to know what complainants make of their being denied a 'detailed investigation'. Are they being surveyed on the matter? I think a detailed investigation is exactly what they would have hoped for when they contacted the Ombudsman.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Phso the Facts' have produced a graph which vidly illustrates how the number of investigations carried out by the PHSO has fallen by more than two-thirds since 2016/17:

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

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

Our reference: FOI64
Your request for information

Thank you for your request of 27 September 2020 via whatdotheyknow.com, in
which you requested information from the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. Your request has been handled in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Your request:

The Warrington and Halton Hall Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Board 
minutes dated 27 November 2019 included an item 'Learning From Experience
Report Q2'.  On page 26 of the report it states:

 

“Complainants dissatisfied with the Trust’s response have the right to ask
the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to consider their
complaint. The PHSO will consider the complaint file, medical records and
any other relevant information as necessary. The PHSO may decide not to
investigate further and no further action will be required from the Trust.
Alternatively, recommendations might be made for the Trust to consider.
The PHSO may decide to conduct a full investigation which might result in
the Trust being required to make an apology, pay compensation and / or
produce an action plan to describe what actions are planned to rectify the
situation and prevent further occurrences.

 

NOTE: The PHSO have changed how they investigate complaints and when
investigations start; therefore previous graphical data may have changed
in this report”.

 

[1]https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www....

 

1.  Please provide details of the changes you have implemented to your
investigations as well as information on your rationale for changing the
start date of investigations (this information may be contained in board
minutes detailing the decisions related to the changes). 

 

2.  Please also provide all information held relating to any assessment
you have made or consideration you have given to how the changes,
including the revised start times, have affected your work.

                                                                                                      

Our response:

We have considered your request but will unfortunately not be able to
fully respond to it without further clarification. Under Section 1(3) of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 we are not obliged to respond fully to
requests which require further clarification to identify and locate the
information required.

 

1.—(3) Where a public authority—
(a) reasonably requires further information in order to identify and
locate the information requested, and
(b) has informed the applicant of that requirement,

 

the authority is not obliged to comply with subsection (1) unless it is
supplied with that further information.

 

With regard to your request we are unclear as to which specific changes to
our investigation process the Trust named above are referring to, or when
such changes either took place or were communicated to the Trust. There
have been a number of changes to our investigation process over the years
which have, to varying degrees and under varying circumstances, affected
when we start an investigation. Details of our current investigation
process can be found in our Service Model Guidance, which is on the
following part of our website:

[2]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

 

However, in order to take your query forward we will need further
clarification from you as to which specific changes to our investigation
process you are referring to (or at least some further information which
will help us identify the relevant changes). It may be that you will need
to ask the NHS Trust which changes they were referring to. Once we receive
this information from you we can look to progress your request further.
However, for the moment and without this clarification we will not take
any further action.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way we 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
[3][PHSO 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 ([4]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [5][PHSO request email]

W: [6]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

References

Visible links
1. https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.w...
2. https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...
3. mailto:[PHSO request email]
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/
5. mailto:[PHSO request email]
6. https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url...

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are J Roberts please sign in and let everyone know.