Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please can you give me an address or telephone number where I can be sure to reach Dame Julie Mellor so that I can write with serious concerns of maladministration and breach of remit within the PHSO.

This relates to a case of avoidable patient death where an unqualified and clinically untrained officer in her 'Review' panel perpetuated the view that deceit and lying within NHS was acceptable and typical in

(1) GP patient treatment
(2) Self-investigation into complaint of negligence

The 'Reviewer' dismissed valid and painstakingly compiled evidence without one single comment or question of validity, and I can imagine that this practice might be being used to dismiss many more cases of NHS negligence if common HSO practice.

I have also been told that non-communication with complainants is an established PHSO policy.

I previously used the normal PHSO channel to reach Dme Julie with a personal letter but this was intercepted and ignored with no reply. Only when I questioned this was I told by a subordinate that it 'did not need a reply'. Hence my request to contact 'CEO' of the organisation to raise awareness and ask for explanation: it did not appear to be in line with HSO Principles of Remedy (published elsewhere).

My request may help public awareness of difficulties for complainants within the Health Service Ombudsman support system after the NHS Complaints system has failed.

Yours faithfully,

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

Helm Claire, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Rock

Your information request

I write further to your email of 10 July 2013. In your email you ask for the address and telephone number of Dame Julie Mellor.

You can write to Dame Julie at The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.

Understandably, many people write to Dame Julie about their complaints as she is the named Ombudsman. However, to provide our Ombudsman service for the thousands of people who bring their cases to us every year, she leads an organisation which has over 250 caseworkers who investigate and resolve complaints.

I am sure you will also understand that, as the Chair of the organisation, it is not possible for Dame Julie to be personally involved in the cases of everyone who contacted her directly. This would simply cause delay and prevent people from getting the quality and speed of service they should expect. That is why the case correspondence she receives is automatically dealt with by the relevant member of staff who has the skills and experience to provide a service to those seeking our help in resolving their complaints.

I am, however, unable to provide you with Dame Julie’s direct telephone number as this constitutes personal information. Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 prevents the disclosure of such personal information.

We acknowledge there is a public interest in allowing people to access to the Ombudsman’s service, but as I explained Dame Julie cannot be personally involved in every case. Therefore the public interest test is met by providing the telephone number of Ombudsman’s service to allow members of the public to speak to the caseworker who is best placed to help and assist them. The number for general enquiries is 0345 015 4033.

I hope that this information is helpful. If you are unhappy with my handling of your information request, you can ask for a review by writing to: [email address]

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to look into your case. Their contact details are available on their website at: www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Claire Helm
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

I doubt that every person contacting the PHOS writes directly to the Dame, only those who are exasperated by the performance of the staff!

Kathleen Dobson left an annotation ()

having looked at the new structure of the PHSO which has too many chiefs and very few indians, the legal and media team, chief operating officer,Execitive teams , Directors of strategy?

One wonders if they have any time to do any work whilst they are all in meetings?

The PHSO has become so vast in top heavy management it looks as if the civil servants from Whitehall who got their jobs axed simply moved to the PHSO allegedly!

It would appear that the new strategy is to make things even more complicated for the public and I would guess that Dame Julia's signature is simply computer generated and she simply turns up for the Parliamentary (on Tele) investigations where she is briefed by the legal and media team that the taxpayers fund..........money which should be spent on 100per cent investigations on ALL complaints sent to the PHSO and not just 1.2 percent of the easy ones!

Dear Claire Helm,

Thank you for your reply Ms Helm but I find that the means for contacting PHSO board are not working.

Understandably, many people write to Dame Julie Mellor, as I did, at The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.

I believe they write out of frustration at not being able to get a fit response from other departments, and wish to contact the top level of the organisation. Unfortunately the letters are intercepted and as you say automatically dealt with by a ‘relevant’ member of staff who rarely show the skill and experience to provide a service to those seeking a response ‘relevant’ to the subject.

I am still waiting considered responses from two letters to J Mellor, both of which related to quality and administration failings in the Ombudsman department and not just specific to my case – my case was raised to give examples of failings. These very failings are now blocking dialogue with the top level who need to know what is going on; and I need to know that points raised have been recognised and ‘taken on board’. It is unlikely that unqualified people [as previously responded] who mundanely deal with ‘cases’ will have the expertise required.

I see no reason for withholding a contact for Dame Julie Mellor or her PA or secretary. As I understand it, public money funds the whole department and that includes the telephones.

Please can you provide a telephone number (+extension number if applicable) unless that rental and hardware is considered private property. It is not relevant to say it is ‘personal information’ because that is what I am asking for – a specific number for a specific person with a standing in the organisation; not a home telephone number.

Ms Helm thank you for your efforts to-date which I might understand is a difficult and tedious job on FOI. Your job no doubt could be made easier if the PHSO had any demonstrable business principles which ensured satisfactory customer response in the first instance.

This lapse alone has helped to ensure massive delay and injustice in the minds of some – quite the opposite of the publicly expressed face of the PHSO – and I have no way of knowing that concerns ever reach those in charge.

Since I have tried the methods you suggest and as shown on the PHSO website I deem this request to have failed unless you can alternatively provide me with a means of getting a civil, top-level response to my letters addressing the shortcomings identified. Can you provide either please?

Yours sincerely,

C Rock

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Rock

I can only repeat that I am unable to provide you with a direct telephone number for Dame Julie Mellor. I provided the reasons for this decision in my response.

As I explained, it is open to you to request a review of this decision if you remain dissatisfied.

Yours sincerely

Claire Helm
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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

Dear Claire Helm

I believe being able to contact top management with a certainty of getting a prompt, empathetic and reasoned reply is of utmost importance and interest especially where systemic failures are being experienced.

I am requesting, initially, an internal review of this critical point.

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

C Rock left an annotation ()

PHSO written response to my request for a review of this request (now referred-to by PHSO as the "complaint"):

"Our reference: FDC-167438/0025
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

"Dear Mr Rock

I am writing in response to your email of 20 August 2013. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our decision not to release information to you.

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the Chief Operating Officer, Helen Hughes.

Ms Hughes or her Head of Office, Mr Steve Brown, will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once the review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review that we will undertake.

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

Yours sincerely
Hannah Jones
Business Support Officer to the Review Team"

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Here are the details of Dame Julie's Private Office email address and her gatekeeper Executive Assistant, Nicki Smith. Good luck !

Elaine Colville

From: private office <privateoffice@ombudsman.org.uk>
Date: 26 February 2013 15:22:21 GMT
To: "E Colville"
Subject: RE: Dame Julie Mellor further to e-correspondence to her of 19 February 2013

RESTRICTED - OMBUDSMAN CASEWORK

Dear Ms Colville

I acknowledge receipt of your emails to Dame Julie Mellor.

As we have previously informed you, we will not be taking any further action on these issues. We will not be responding to any further correspondence that you send us on this complaint.

Yours sincerely

Nicki Smith
Executive Assistant
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
T: 0300 061 4241
E: nicki.smith@ombudsman.org.uk
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

C Rock left an annotation ()

Thank you for that annotated information. The tone of the response you had sounds very familiar and far from Ombudsman's Principles so readily promoted on in PHSO blurb-site. They have a problem, and nothing barring honest and caring action is going to fix it. If they could drag themselves out of the office for even a couple of days (a drop in the ocean in their budget) to meet victims face to face and experience the harm done, it might start to turn their attitude. But I dream...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Good heavens.. Don't tell me you are expecting a meeting.

You will only get one if your case looks to become embarrassing in the media.

And then , you know that won't be able to say anything regarding your case, which entirely nullifies the point of it.

You will have to sit and listen mutely listen to how well the Phso is doing ...and what it's strategies are for the future.

So the PHSO can boast that it is being 'open and transparent' for the Annual Report.

Dame Julie's secretary will only refer you to someone who brays loudly over everything you say with a: 'I must stop you there!'
And does not note down what you say correctly.

Go the media route if you can.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

C.Rock is absolutely correct. In fact, I believe the PASC's on-going 'Inquiry' into the PHSO Service would be greatly enhanced were the PASC to require every MP who has presented a Complaint to the PHSO on behalf of one or more constituents - over say the last five years - to identify who those Complainants are so that the PASC can personally invite every one of those individuals to present a written submission about their PHSO experience, for subsequent publication by Parliament.

A transparent exercise of this kind would be a far more reliable barometer of Complainant 'satisfaction' levels than that which the PASC relies on at this time.

Let's face it. Of the 6,000 Complaints annually, how many Complainants are even aware of the PASC Inquiry? Precious few I'd suggest given so far there are just 20-odd written submissions from actual Complainants (including those published in June/July under Complaints: do they make a difference?)

The PASC, Dame Julie and her Board have a one-time opportunity through this Inquiry to open their eyes and ears and to fix what has gone so horribly wrong.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's not in their interests to put it right.

They can't cope with the number of complaints that they get now.....

It seems that they don't even bother to read some properly and just send out the set paragraph refusal letter:

'Get lost prole,
... no go,
... no explanation
....it's just because I say so'

The PHSO's high cost combined with its non-value for money is world class.

Therefore it has to clean up its own act before attempting to do anything for the benefit of the summarily dismissed 98.6percent of complainants.

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Rock,

 

Please find attached correspondence in respect of your information request

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [1][email address]

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[3]fb  [4]twitter  [5]linkedin

 

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

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
3. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
4. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
5. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

How can it be 'personal information'?

It's bought and paid for by the taxpayer.

It's not her personal mobile that you were asking for...

Della left an annotation ()

Can I put their response letter on the website Colin? I think there is a public interest in this issue.

Susan Wilkinson left an annotation ()

It's absurd that the phone extensions are considered private, but I don't suppose talking to Mellor will get you anywhere, she knows what sort of organisation she is running. Ironic that she got her dameship or whatever it's called for work in women's rights and now her job is to deny everyone their rights.

I was wondering if a better approach would be to start questioning what particular policies and procedural guidelines lead to decisions. I haven't referred my case, my issue with the PHSO is slightly different, but if I had a case dismissed, I would be asking about exactly how decisions are reached.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's even more ridiculous as you can get an extension number via a switchboard.

Or even phoning extension numbers and listening to the messages.

Della left an annotation ()

You can ask away Susan but PHSO won't answer. Once you have your case dismissed and your mangled review has ignored all the key evidence, they just close the door. All your letters are filed away in the box labelled 'no action required' even when you have asked for specific questions to be addressed. That is how PHSO is accountable, open and transparent.

Dear FOI officer S Brown,

Thank you for your attention and response to the complaint of withheld information. I regret your response is inadequate in response in bypassing the core question.

You incorrectly stated that it [ asking for a contact for JM ] was the entirety of my request. And I asked for this — I did not ‘explain’, as PHSO frequently misuses that term — in connection with administration matters. The request was illustrated with references to my case and to deficient and illogical responses I had been receiving.

Your response was in parts:

(1) Providing the office address: it is cynical to repeat that this needs ‘explanation’ when it is known Julie Mellor will not respond (even to requests from an MP); and no response acknowledges or even indicates her involvement. This address has proved inadequate for the purpose (that is why I am asking for a direct method to reach her).

(2) “Dame Julie cannot be personally involved in every case”: The enquiry related to writing “with serious concerns of maladministration and breach of remit within the PHSO”. Not one single response received to-date has shown competence in dealing and responding in that matter (I am not looking for another “caseworker” – I could list ten involved so far but this is only part of PHSO problems).

(3) You did not attempt to address my statement “I believe being able to contact top management with a certainty of getting a prompt, empathetic and reasoned reply is of utmost importance and interest especially where systemic failures are being experienced”. Yet your response illustrated this point precisely in character and content.

(4) You could not provide Dame Julies publicly funded contact details, and she refuses to face contact from customers and complaints of maladministration; protected by staff unable to grasp the simplest concepts of customer service (I have written at least six letters addressed to the Ombudsman which have been ignored, diverted or otherwise misconstrued in response).

This request has failed and nothing has changed in PHSO transparency. Thank you for your considerations.

Yours sincerely,

C Rock

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

You could always send a recorded letter to Dame Julie's private address if there is no other way that she can be contacted.

Della left an annotation ()

Well said Colin.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I can't see that the PHSO is making the distinction between the office and the person:

Ie The Ombudsman is a continuing post - distinct from that of the person occupying that office ie Julie Mellor.

The office is paid for by the taxpayer and is continous, so it exists whether Julie Mellor occupies it or not.

So if you ask for 'The Ombudsman's extension number' .... it should logically be provided.

If you ask for Julie Mellor's..then it's covered under DPA.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

A ruling by the ICO on this very subject.....

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

C Rock left an annotation ()

Due to the oblique and apparently lethargic response to this request I shall close it as request denied.

There may still be room for comment on this, and not entirely unconnected with the Information Officer's previous judgements on similar cases of failure with public bodies to provide contacts for leading personnel.

The PHSO still fails to abide by their own Principles, or by any standards that others may wish to uphold in openness, clarity and responsibility - as far as I can tell.

I do not understand why they could not have responded with something like:

"Please address any severe complaints and issues with the PHSO to julie.mellor@ombudsman.org.uk and she will be pleased to look into your concerns. Thank you for your feedback - we really appreciate it."

It's that simple; and wouldn't it be nice to think the PHSO was listening?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's even more ridiculous when you realise that many PHSO staff are advertising their services on LinkedIn.

You can write to the via Twitter and Facebook too..but apparently not contact them as regards your case via the PHSO.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

If it's impossible to send a letter to Dame Julie via her business address, it forces people to look for her home address and send it by registered post.

Which is obviously intrusive.

But if anyone writes to a public figure and they usually get a receipt for their letter or email, so they are sure that their letters or emails get to the correct destination.

With the PHSO, the organisation is far too arrogant to spend any part if it's £32m providing receipts for *Dame Julie's 'subjects' ...

How long does an email receipt take to do....three seconds?

Its sheer contempt for the public.

* in relation to her performance compared to the Queen's in receipting and sometimes answering letters from her subjects.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Take it to the ICO,..either the PHSO can refuse its judgement, or it can't.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

It's the responsibility of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) appointed to Boards in both the public and private sectors to address the acts and omissions of executive management. That's the theory anyway.

For role of Non-Executive Directors in Government see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

More particularly, see PASC evidence from Sir John Browne, Government Lead Non-Executive Director -
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa....

Relevant extracts:

"Q21 Kelvin Hopkins: Under the Treasury’s code of good practice on corporate governance, boards are not supposed to get involved in executive decisions about the running of the Department. Does that sit comfortably with their role in commenting on the performance of individual board members, and potentially seeking the removal of individuals from their posts?"

" Lord Browne of Madingley: There is a fine balance. It is like any board; boards are not a higher form of management. There is management and there are the boards. The boards are meant to supervise management and advise them. There is an amount of information you need to do that, and it is the information, as opposed to the action, that you have to separate."

"I come back to the point about management information. It is very important to understand who is accountable for what, what they have committed to, and whether they are achieving what they said they would do. It is very simple: you make a promise, and if you discharge it, great; if you do not, you need to explain, or you need to take stronger action. The boards are trying to get the right amount of information to do just that...."

Sir John sits alongside Cabinet Office Ministers, including Oliver Letwin, who recently announced to the PASC his intention to lead a Cabinet inquiry into complaints, including possible legislative changes to the work of the PHSO.

Relevance in the context of compalints about Dame Julie and her Board?

See here: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset... and here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

The PHSO's NEDs are: Sir Jon Shortridge KCB, Sharmila Nebhrajani, Helen Walley and Peter Freeman - http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/who...

Sir John can be contacted at: spaynter@riverstonellc.com

Like Dame Julie, he doesn't seem to be overstretched in his work (for Government), at least not according to this: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Time to test the theory and publish the outcome? The results would after-all be relevant and material to the PASC and CO's respective Inquiries!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ( 1 August 2013)

I doubt that every person contacting the PHOS writes directly to the Dame, only those who are exasperated by the performance of the staff!
......

To be fair Brenda.. That's the majority of complainants

C Rock left an annotation ()

"Not listening; not listening; not listening..." is the only reply I ever had. When I had a reply. Never from the addressee.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

I wrote to Sir John many months ago, but he doesn’t get involved in individual cases!!!!!!! But then, you knew that, didn’t you.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

I wrote to Sir John on 15th February 2013. I'm still awaiting his reply, Including his response to this passage from my letter -

"| question whether the Government, Parliament and other regulatory and oversight bodies are acting in the bests interests of political debate, accountability and justice if they deny themselves the right to comment on the substance of so-called "individual cases" allowing "information" just to swirl around the system and be ignored because no one wants to take responsibility; to be accountable. What is important is not just to get the information on problems; it is then to get steps taken to make sure that if there are problems action is put in hand to stop that".

It remains to be seen whether he will tell me that NEDs he appoints to the Boards of central government departments cannot become involved in individual cases and neither can he.

I will now send a follow-up e-mail to Sir John with a link to this thread to remind him that his response to my correspondene is long overdue.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

This NAO report on the work of the Charity Commission, published today, makes interesting reading in the context of points being made on this thread -
http://www.nao.org.uk/press-releases/reg...

The conclusions raise the question of the general effectiveness and value for money of Boards of Executive Directors whose attentivenss and powers of scrutiny have once again fallen short.

The CC Board comprises the directors identified here - http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/abou...

On 'independent cases' this is what the CC promotes:

"The increasing effectiveness of the Commission's relationship with other agencies, and of its information sharing in relation to individual cases of concern, is demonstrated by the increase in the number of information exchanges in each direction. The number of exchanges received by the Commission in 2011-12 was 442 (436 in the previous year), and the number of exchanges provided to other bodies was 695 (615 in the previous year)."

http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/abou...

Della left an annotation ()

M.Ps in critcising the civil servants have stated that 'leadership is about facing up to problems not pushing them under the carpet.' Perhaps they can pay attention to that themselves.

C Rock left an annotation ()

I don't know why the PHSO makes all this so necessary and complicated. Why don't they listen instead of going off at a tangent with every question and not checking facts before 'pronouncing'?

This continual highlighting and circulating of their failures isn't doing them any good. It will ultimately have to be tackled head-on with the publicity it deserves for showing a total lack of empathy and 'learning'.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

To be fair Susan.. Dame Julie does seem to employ a lot of women to deny us our rights.

Susan says:
......It's absurd that the phone extensions are considered private, but I don't suppose talking to Mellor will get you anywhere, she knows what sort of organisation she is running. Ironic that she got her dameship or whatever it's called for work in women's rights and now her job is to deny everyone their rights.

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org