Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am given to understand, by PHSO Reviewers (Named), that once a complainant has asked for a review of their Case then complaints against the PHSO will not be accepted whether related to flawed assumptions, clarity of response, or service quality issues including staff attitudes.

I understand also that complaints can only be ‘logged’ against existing case numbers and there is no complaint log as such (i.e. complainants never receive a complaint log or reference number even if it’s a new complaint).

(1) Please can you confirm or correct my understanding of the above under FOI, and then answer specific FOI or recorded data enquiries as follows:

(2) Can you supply the written criteria or Rules for accepting or rejecting complaints made about the PHSO?

(3) Do you have any agreed classification of the subject of a complaint against PHSO e.g. disputed inference; response clarity; staff conduct; etc.? If so, may I see this please?

(4) With reference to complaints about PHSO service ONLY (and not case review requests), is it possible to distinguish and extract PHSO complaint data from PHSO Case data, e.g. for the purposes of quality and performance reporting? Then, for this type of complaint:-

a)How many complaints were received but dismissed under Rules, for the last full 12 months of available figures.

b)How many accepted complaints went on to be investigated internally to completion with no independent input (same period)?

c)How many accepted complaints were evaluated by the PHSO before being referred-out for independent assessment(same period)?

d)For each of (b) and (c), how many complaints were upheld (action taken), or discharged (no action taken).

(5) Finally a short question: Is it possible for persons with complaints against the PHSO to contact an independent assessor directly (thinking about non-case-specific complaints), in order that some neutrality in (and segregation of) complaint issues can be seen?

This knowledge might also help others in understanding a complaints system which appears somewhat arcane and divorced from commercial practice. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

C Rock

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Rock

 

Your information request (FDN-180619)

 

I write further to your email of 21 December 2013.  I will address your
points in turn.

 

(1)      Please can you confirm or correct my understanding of the above
under FOI, and then answer specific FOI or recorded data enquiries as
follows:

 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 entitles you to recorded information. 
I am not obliged to confirm your interpretation.  However, to be helpful
if I explain that an internal review provides the opportunity for a
complainant to raise concerns about how we have handled their complaint or
the decision we have reached.  The review provides an opportunity for us
to consider the service we have provided and the soundness of our
decision, and if necessary, acknowledge any mistakes and put things right.

 

As you know, we are the last stage of the complaints process.  Unlike many
Ombudsman we do have a review process and do where appropriate reconsider
our decision.  We have an internal dedicated team responsible for carrying
out reviews.  We also currently employ three part time external reviewers
whose work is overseen by the Review Team.  The Review Team are managed
separately from other casework teams and reviewers have no previous
involvement with the complaints they see.  I hope this helps clarifies
matters.

 

In your email you asked whether ‘complaints can only be ‘logged’ against
existing case numbers and there is no complaint log as such (i.e.
complainants never receive a complaint log or reference number even if
it’s a new complaint)’.  Complaints about our decisions or service will
always be logged in our casework management system.  As complaints of this
kind will relate to a case in some way, a complaint to the review team
will be recorded against that pre-existing case reference.

 

(2)      Can you supply the written criteria or Rules for accepting or
rejecting complaints made about the PHSO?

 

Please find the review section of our Casework Policy and Guidance
document and the complaint forms which are the recorded information which
falls within the scope of your request.

 

(3)      Do you have any agreed classification of the subject of a
complaint against PHSO e.g. disputed inference; response clarity; staff
conduct; etc.? If so, may I see this please?

 

In our ‘how to complain about the way we dealt with you’ form, we ask
complainants to specify the type of service complaint they are making.
 The categories are: how we treated you; how we communicated with you; how
long we took to deal with your complaint; other.  In respect of complaints
about decisions, the categories are also outlined in the complaint form.

 

(4)      With reference to complaints about PHSO service ONLY (and not
case review requests), is it possible to distinguish and extract PHSO
complaint data from PHSO Case data, e.g. for the purposes of quality and
performance reporting? Then, for this type of complaint:-

 

a)How many complaints were received but dismissed under Rules, for the
last full 12 months of available figures.

 

In the past 12 months we have received 155 complaints about our service. 
I do not know what you mean by ‘dismissed under rules’.

                                                     

b)How many accepted complaints went on to be investigated internally to
completion with no independent input (same period)?

 

In the past 12 months we have resolved 166 complaints about our service.
(Some of these will have been received the year before.)  All of the
service complaints we received were reviewed under our internal complaints
process by the Review Team who undertake this work. 

 

c)How many accepted complaints were evaluated by the PHSO before being
referred-out for independent assessment(same period)?

 

All of the service complaints we received were reviewed under our internal
complaints process by the Review Team who undertake this work. 

 

d)For each of (b) and (c), how many complaints were upheld (action taken),
or discharged (no action taken).

 

94 of the service complaints received were not upheld (56.6%); 36 were
upheld (21.7%) 25 were partially upheld (15.1%); and 11 were withdrawn
(6.6%).

 

(5)     Finally a short question: Is it possible for persons with
complaints against the PHSO to contact an independent assessor directly
(thinking about non-case-specific complaints), in order that some
neutrality in (and segregation of) complaint issues can be seen?

 

As I have explained, complaints about the decisions we have made or the
service we have provided are considered by the Review Team.  They will be
considered fairly and impartially under our internal complaints process. 
The reviewer (both internal or external reviewers) will usually contact
the complainant during their review unless there is good reason not to do
so.

 

I hope you find the information I have provided helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Claire Helm

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

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Dear Ms Helm,

As ever helpful - yet somewhat mystifying. With regard to my question numbered (1)

I appreciate your efforts in trying to clarify what I was given to believe (pars. 1,2) by your reviewer (that any complaint or approach after a ‘Review’ was in effect invalid) and I can see that a response to this might be outside strict FOI questions. You have however made an effort to explain:

You have informed me on review purpose and handling but have not entirely clarified handling and responses, by the inclusion of the conditional phrase ‘if necessary’.

My apologies - an explanation:

Most would agree that it is a nonsense to state that “if necessary” or “where appropriate” the PHSO will consider a decision (or a review, or a complaint) as this implies pre-judgement by some esoteric means even before an assessment is made. This will always complicate and confuse the issue and its response.

If the PHSO does not log, investigate, record and respond to a complaint, the complainant will never know what has happened or why the matter which caused concern was deemed to be of no account by the PHSO. And if a complaint was not necessary I’m sure it would not have been made with the expectation of a remedy.

So my question regarding, essentially, segregation of original complaints and PHSO service complaints appears to have been misread. There appeared to be no simple measure by the Ombudsman to log complaints and differentiate their handling from case material. This was my understanding from what your caseworker told me regarding any complaint made after your Review. Hence this FOI question, and the one on New Evidence (handling).

With regard to my question (2)

Thank you for the Ombudsman Casework Policy and Guidance section on Review (undated) and the complaint forms (both dated Nov. ’13).

The Casework Policy and Guidance (for Reviews) is interesting. I noted that a number of instructions/policies diverged from practice in my experience; but comment here would be outside the scope of this FOI.

With regard to my question (3)

I can see that the Complaint Forms show the essential categories of complaint, as you state in your reply. It is not clear to me how complaint categories would be recorded, or complaint progress would be traceable from the dual-purpose (cases and complaints) database; but perhaps I’m being too technical here.

With regard to my question (4)

Thank you for these figures. It is then demonstrated that you are able to extract figures on complaints and give some breakdown as to outcomes and I note that, on balance, recorded complaints are upheld, to a degree. I did not understand the circumstance where some complainants might choose to withdraw their complaint, but must accept it happens.

Since I was given the impression (again, para. 1,2) that some complaints were not even dealt-with (i.e. excluded due to an in-house rule, caveat or use of Ombudsman’s discretion), I asked if you could tell me how many fell into this category. This is still not clear due to some mixed messages – and you have not said all complaints are investigated; yet are reviewed. I will assume you are doing your best to give me factual information: thank you. So no complaints are excluded.

With regard to my question (5)

I note that complainants may not contact independent assessors, and I understand from other freedom of information requests that the PHSO (in England), will not allow complainants to know who assessed all or part of their case UNLESS they are contacted by same. I should point out that I was not contacted by the Reviewer or external assessor; nor was give reason for this omission. I would like to have corrected their assumptions made on inaccurate evidence used.

Information only - this is not a question:

Additionally, I did not know what you meant by ‘we are the last stage of the complaints process’; since I didn’t refer to a specific complaint in my FOI question. I assume you were referring to the general context of the response and with an assumption that Complaints followed Cases.

However: If you ARE referring to a specific (my personal) case complaint, may I explain that the Ombudsman has so far refused to cogently consider and answer critical questions raised both at the time and in new evidence – and so is unresolved, for Customer purpose.

If you are referring to a new service complaint of 4th Dec. 2013, the Ombudsman has similarly not responded in matters of (a) why the Ombudsman (Assessor/Reviewer) made no written record of an assessment of evidence (against published requirements) , and (b) why I have suffered inappropriate staff behaviour (against PHSO Principles). This is as yet also unresolved but I note that you claim a requirement of up to 4 months to deal with and respond to any sort of complaint.

Ms Helm I thank you for your response and your research in putting the information together.

Yours sincerely,

C Rock

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

Well seeing my complaint was about service failure from my GP practiceafter discharge from a private hospital based in scotland.

This has happened to me on three separate occasions where nhs follow up on a cancer patient has failed.
I have also been told by the phso that I cannot show their letter to anyone and no one can publish it.
They have totally ignored my complaint as there us no written evidence from the practice and the doctor cannot be questioned as he is on long term sick.
So my complaint has not been upheld and they blame the hospital in scotland, which looked after me, they continued the care after the surgery failed to help.It meant a 400 mile round trip each time instead if a district nurse.
Anyone got any advice?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Why can't the letter to you not be made public?

As for your other question - even if your case is upheld by the PHSO all you get is a 'tut'.

No one is named ....and nothing much done.

I wouldn't waste your time..find a good lawyer.

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

Thanks, understand would anyone have the name if a god lawyer the local ones will protect t
he doctor here!

C Rock left an annotation ()

My complaint was dated 4th December 2013

Using the downloaded form, it started:

1. Please tell us what it is about the way we dealt with you that you are unhappy about. Please tick one or more of the boxes below

 How we treated you
 How we communicated with you
 How long we took to deal with your complaint
 Other. Please explain: Failure to consider evidence as advertised.

I ticked every box. You would think that would need urgent attention.

To-date, I have not had any recognition that this is in hand apart from an auto-reply.

C Rock left an annotation ()

My complaint then went on:

2. Please tell us what we did wrong, and when

(1) Your methods of communicating sensitive issues have been totally inconsiderate and without understanding or questioning of key recorded facts. You have refused to consider facts first raised in my original communications. I have given you hard evidence and you have given me no evidence of showing it was taken into account. Recent responses confirm this.

C Rock left an annotation ()

Following paragraph:

(2) Your written and verbal communications have reflected and confirmed the above, with no thought to the damage being done to me, other victims, and the credibility of the PHSO for others. Your responses revolve around your procedures which have no relation to the actions needed for remedy and learning. For instance

(a) a review of a case becomes a review of a procedure;
(b) subsequent reviews of new evidence are ignored, detached from the original evidence and no traceable review, enquiry or explanation is filed;
(c) Urgent actions on your part are passed-off without response.

C Rock left an annotation ()

And then para 3:

(3) My case has now been in progress unresolved for four and a half years and I see no near resolution with your current attitudes to victims. I have written letters to high level which have not been answered. Most of my communications and thoughts are shared at a wider level as you know and this will continue to be the case up to resolution remedy and learning conclusions.

More follows

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

I was told at the outset if my complaint that I could have copies of data etc upon which they based their decision.
Now I've asked for that information and an extension to the 10 working days which I've been allowed to respond in (which after youtube held onto this for 7 months is cheek if nothing else)....not heard a peep from them no reply!

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

sorry about the you tube...they have sat on this for 7 months.
If this was conducted in commercial life investigations should be thorough and not desk based relying on printed documentation which cannot be tampered with, what a laugh, any record can be doctored.....they need to be examined properly.When a doctor states"had a chat with patient on upcoming cancer operation"and that is the only statement he makes with regard to my care the alarm bells should be ringing off the wall!
No contact with the surgeon, staff or aftercare which he confirmed to the hospital they would supply but obviously had a change of mind because I defied his advice and went ahead with the operation.
Now I was under the impression that this was a free country where you could decide if you wished to have surgery or not and as my insurance company footed the bill at no cost whatsoever to the nhs wouldn't you think a GP would be delighted it was not coming out of his budget?

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

Typical...the information arrived in this mornings post.
Please feel free to delete anything whictYh you feel us inappropriate.

Colin Hammonds left an annotation ()

...some two months ago i received my final report, at that moment i requested a review request since then i have stated by email five times that i also wish to make a service complaint about the quality of my investigation, since then i have had my review request denied. Yesterday i received an email from PHSO Charlotte Carter (the very same person who had refused my review request) stating that my service complaint had been looked into fully and there was nothing wrong with the service the PHSO had given, the only problem is i haven't made my service complaint yet ....!! ....a little premature to say the least....

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Typical .. It took me over year to get my complaint to the right person.

One who could understand it.

Doesn't seem that the PHSO has moved on one jot since then.

Here's what the external investigator said :

The review team failed to provide Mrs TO with a reasonable or acceptable level of service. The service actually provided was, in my view, well below the level you would consider adequate. Some of the decisions at particular points were unreasonable; there was a failure to co ordinate the review team's work with the efforts being made by the FoI team; and the review team seems to have become 'locked' into a negative bureaucratic process, which it treated as unalterable, of refusing to consider the points made for review.

It is also clear that a substantial avoidable delay resulted. I can it say what the result would have been if one had been launched in November 2012, as it should have been, but whatever it's outcome a good deal of delay would have been avoided.....

...It is not evident from the papers that I have seen that the PHSO has a robust system to dealing quickly where complaints are made about the review team itself.

The review team failed to provide Mrs TO with a reasonable or acceptable level of service. The service actually provided was, in my view, well below the level you would consider adequate. Some of the decisions at particular points were unreasonable; there was a failure to co ordinate the review team's work with the efforts being made by the FoI team; and the review team seems to have become 'locked' into a negative bureaucratic process, which it treated as unalterable, of refusing to consider the points made for review.

It is also clear that a substantial avoidable delay resulted. I can it say what the result would have been if one had been launched in November 2012, as it should have been, but whatever it's outcome a good deal of delay would have been avoided.....

...It is not evident from the papers that I have seen that the PHSO has a robust system to dealing quickly where complaints are made about the review team itself.

C Rock left an annotation ()

I can update my annotation of 2nd Feb 2014.

There has still been no response on my complaint regarding the points I made in that post. There is no complaint system as such because the phso like to tie it up to your substantive complaint on the original government department service failure. I am awaiting the outcome of a new look at that, but have led around the garden path on actually looking at my complaint on phso service. I was expecting a response from Annette John (then Interim Director of Customer Services) on this aspect as I was told she was the appropriate person looking at complaint handling.

It took six years to get my substantive complaint treated seriously so I guess a two year (to the day) wait for a response to my service complaint must indicate a severe backlog in complaint handling complaints - or an equally severe denial.

Colin Hammonds left an annotation ()

....can we safely say that there is no service complaint procedure at the PHSO ........?

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Read this report by Mick Martin, March 2014 and you will see how PHSO 'learn from complaints'. Look at 3.1 to 3.3 - the Review Team received approximately 280 enquiries (complaints) per month. That totals to 3,360 per year. In 2013/14 they accepted only 17% of them for review. So it would appear they learn from complaints by ignoring most of them.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

It also begs the question as to how Mick Martin established these figures when this FOI states that prior to November 2014 the total number of review requests (complaints) was not recorded. Did he just make up the 280 per month figure? This response also states that in a five month period 392 review requests were made. So somewhere along the line there has been a bit of creative accounting. If Mr. Martin is correct then a five month period is more likely to produce 1,400 review requests. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

One of the problems is that PHSO interchange 'enquiries', 'review requests', 'complaints' and 'feedback' which muddies the water and is a habit chastised by Bernard Jenkin at PACAC who called for clear language. 'A complaint is a complaint'.

Colin Hammonds left an annotation ()

....it would be interesting if there was a site or a page set up where those who wanted to could show examples of communication with the PHSO just so that people realise just how much we're all being taken for fools.....i have just sent off my second request this week to make a service complaint and i have no intention of giving up, in fact the reverse........

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

You're right Colin.

All the assurances from the ombudsman and directors - but no action from those at the complaint face.

:::

It's impolite , not to mention ignorant, to 'ghost' complainants into oblivion - without explaining why.

Especially to the bereaved....its an cruelly demeaning and an antagonistic action.

The PHSO really should grow up.

It's childish playground stuff .......and that's where it should of been left.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Phsothefacts- It's because the PHSO is now run on business principles.

Business managers need to justify their existence- but simultaneously hand responsibility of doing anything to someone else. So they do 'surveys'. And then mould the survey responses to their own justification.

The public survey responses are always blindingly obvious:

'The PHSO should act fairly and respond quickly to our complaints' for instance.

( who'd of thought it ?)

Business types then produce endless wittering reports on the surveys - saying:

' You told us what should be done', to the public, incorporating a few comments made by the public ..who foolishly thought they had any say in it at all.

A business type report conclusion (to suit their own opinion)with a few stats ....and that's it. The logic is if things go wrong, they are not to blame - it's because the survey was ignored.

:::

So job done. Hand over to someone else, who can't effect anything much without the budget to do so.

Nothing much is done. So things continue as before.

This time with even more complaints, to go with those that are still hanging around in the system -pre-survey,

This means yet another survey,( or focus group/s ) , to find out why complaints are continuing to increase, or, at least remain at the same level.

The focus group will say : 'The PHSO should act fairly and respond quickly to our complaints' .

Another report. And the whole thing goes again - with a new title. ( 'Our new principles' , or something equally bland and doesn't actually make hard and fast nitty gritty policy, so no one can be held accountable).

::::

The way to minimise the rapidity increasing accumulation of complaints is to 'redefine' them ( by adding more stats categories ..the business type method to fiddle bad stats)

'Feedback ' - for instance - as Bernard Jenkin knows, and has pointed out.

::::

The way to solve it is to employ managers who don't need to send out on endless surveys to know whats 'wrong' ( the average 10 -year -old could tell them) - and act on it by reallocation of budgets- and take the hit if they are wrong.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Colin there is a page on the phsothefacts.com which has 'what people say about phso'. You can always post a comment there. Good luck.
http://phsothefacts.com/what-people-say-...

Colin Hammonds left an annotation ()

Hi phsothefacts Pressure Group... i've already posted there and i like your site very much and what you're doing, this suggestion is in no way a critic, far from it.......i was thinking more of a forum type site which could accomodate complainants letters and communication plus instant discussion between complainants and the general public, communication between the PHSO and complainants could be followed in real time and all in the same place.....there needs to be a way of getting closer to the totally absurd way the PHSO are treating complainants.....and what's more this needs to be seen, known and made available to the general public in the easiest possible manner....

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I also complained about my caseworker. Totally ignored, despite many attempts to get them to respond. Eventually I got an apology from them, but only after insisting on one. This organisation is in no way shape or form, doing what it was set up to do. I have been dealing with them for almost eight years. In all that time, absolutely NOTHING has changed. Let's not kid ourselves folks.
Again and again I point to the fact that they get more complaints about THEIR service than they do about the departments they are meant to be investigating. The irony in this is beyond explanation. The ONLY way this organisation will change is if a Panorama-style expose is done on them. It's such a good story I'm surprised no-one has done it yet. And it should preferably be done just before an election.

Colin Hammonds left an annotation ()

...I'm wondering if it's possible to take the PHSO to court collectively as a group ?

E. Colville left an annotation ()

I absolutely agree with you CA Purkis where you write:

"This organisation is in no way shape or form, doing what it was set up to do. ….The ONLY way this organisation will change is if a Panorama-style expose is done on them. It's such a good story I'm surprised no-one has done it yet. And it should preferably be done just before an election."

The reality and downside is that the captured Press and Media are part of the Westminster/Whitehall chumocracy of which PHSO is also a part and it is not in their interests to do any expose on PHSO.

I'm sure the irony will not be lost on you after reading the below extracts from a 1957 debate on the Conservative Government's Tribunals and Enquiries Bill (based on the Franks Committee Report dealing with administrative injustice), that is, ten years before the Labour Government brought in what the Conservatives considered to be the "swiz" of the 1967 Ombudsman legislation which was also to deal with administrative injustice - but in a different way (that continues to be as clear as mud):

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr Rab Butler) (Con): "We are concerned with a matter which is of fundamental importance to the ordinary person."

Mr William Wells (Lab): "….the terms of reference on which the Franks Committee operated precluded it from considering the wider question of the relationship of the administration to the citizen, with which such public interest as there has been in the Franks Committee is really concerned.

…there is one matter in relation to the Report which is a little saddening. I and the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) have been engaged for a considerable time on another report [Wolfenden] for which the Home Secretary is responsible, which concerns the question of homosexual offences and prostitution. The Franks Report describes very clearly the impact of the subject matter [administrative injustice] with which it deals on the population of this country. ….Following the publication of the Wolfenden Report, the members of the Wolfenden Committee, including myself, received invitations to appear on television and were pursued with inquiries from the Press. Sir John Wolfenden has been asked to address a meeting at Cambridge. I addressed a meeting at Oxford last week-end, and I have been invited to attend a debate in Liverpool University at the end of November and to address an Institute of Insurers in December on the subject matter of the Report.

The News Chronicle published a Gallup Poll only a few days after the publication of the Report, and an astonishingly high proportion of the people who were interviewed knew, broadly speaking, what is the subject matter of the Wolfenden Report. …. The sad thing about all this is that when we deal with the Wolfenden Report in the House, as we shall before long, our discussions will be conducted before an educated and instructed democracy; whereas this evening I feel very sad to say that we are not conducting our discussions on this even more important matter, affecting much more intimately much wider strata of the population than the Wolfenden Report, before an educated democracy. I hazard a guess that the most cursory references to this debate will be made over the B.B.C., that probably no other broadcast commentary will be made at all, and that the report of today's debate in tomorrow's newspapers will be of a very limited character.

Mr William Rees-Davies (Con): " I am particularly happy to follow the hon. and learned Member (Mr. W. Wells), because he began by taking a point which I took when speaking on this subject at my own party conference… I only hope that he enjoys a little more reporting tomorrow morning than I or any of my friends did on that occasion. Perhaps I might just say that the Labour Party, at its conference…, did not discuss this subject. It was given high priority by the Conservative Party, being the subject of the first motion for Friday …..

As a result of this subject having high priority, one would have thought that some of the leading newspapers of the country might have paid a little attention to the subject matter of the debate which took place, at least, at the Tory conference. Nevertheless, despite the fact that some newspapers devote much space—the Sunday Express, in particular, devoting one whole column to it every Sunday, to the very important question of the liberty of the subject, very properly, if I may say so, and producing a great many examples of administrative injustice which take place—not one single word devoted to the basic arguments which lie behind this subject was to be found in the main national newspapers of the day.
Today, as one would expect, there is a first-class leader on the subject in The Times. Not one word do we find in the popular Press, for, unfortunately, unlike the sexual pleasures which form the subject of the Wolfenden Report, the subject we are debating has no "human story" in it which is really worth selling to the public in these days of competitive television and B.B.C. broadcasting. What is worse is that there has, as yet, been no opportunity on any television or radio broadcasting system to give due attention to what is really the most important of subjects, namely, the liberty of the individual and his position as citizen vis-à-vis the State. There has, as yet, been hardly anybody inside or outside the House who has really criticised and censured the Press, as I feel we should do, for the attitude it has adopted in this matter…..

"What I am saying is that it seems to me that the newspapers—and the Press is important in this matter—have failed the public and that the whole of the country outside is not willing to grasp what is the purport of the discussion here today: that we are seeking, through the assistance of the Government and of this remarkably fine [Franks] Report.

……It was, to my mind, the appalling obliteration of the standards of the rules of natural justice at that time that started me off on this course, and it was in 1951 that Mr. Ashe Lincoln and myself and a committee first sat to consider the question of administrative tribunals and to offer the first report to the Conservative Party. It was following that that my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary led his team, in turn with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens), into the pamphlet "The Rule of Law", and it was that part of the Conservative Party's programme, in its 1955 Election manifesto, which led to the setting up of the Franks Committee.

What is so nice to think is that it is that Committee, wholly independent in its views and having seen the whole picture, who realised that here was a subject which really can cut across party philosophy; for although in the background this is true party philosophy of the Conservative Party, none the less it is my belief that the great majority of the Labour Party can join in and say, "Here is something in which we equally and sincerely can believe" and that any question of whether one gives the lead or not will not be important fifty years from now. If only one can make the country forget sex and fights over whether the Archbishop is right or wrong over religion, if people can be made to wake up and realise that this business is something which affects the lives of the people deeply, and if the Press can get a little more responsibility into it and report matters which are news instead of gossip, this debate and the future may be worth something to our country. "

Fifty years later, "If only", indeed!

E. Colville left an annotation ()

I meant to underline in my last annotation the bizarre view that it was and still may be considered that there would to be "no human story" about PHSO , not unless it could be sexed up. That's the inference anyway.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Fascinating Elaine. It is quite true that administrative justice and the role of the Ombudsman appears to have very little interest for either parliamentarians or the general public and of course the press have a role to play in failing to raise awareness. In the 2014/15 annual report it was stated that public awareness of the Ombudsman service had risen from 19% to 22% so 78% of people don't know anything about the work of this organisation - until they come to use it.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's not in politicians' interests to have an efficient PHSO.

If the PHSO picked up thousands more maladministration cases, who do you think the public would blame at the ballot box?

Because you can't vote out a failing NHS - or those who run it, but you can vote for the politicians responsible for the state of it.

Therefore it's best to have an inefficient organisation which finds it very hard to find any maladministration and injustice at all.

With a complaints system which dismisses the majority of complainants,

So they have such an inefficient system.

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