Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Could you please send new an up to date disclosure log if employees interests starting from January 2011.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Jt Oakley

I am writing in response to your email of 15 November 2013 in which you have asked:

"Could you please send new an up to date disclosure log if employees interests starting from January 2011."

We are unable to provide you with a complete list of all employees’ declared interests for the period you have asked for. This is because we do not hold a ‘disclosure log’ which contains all of the information you have requested. In order to provide you with this information, we would need to look into each individual employee’s personnel file and check every case in which we have obtained clinical advice. In these circumstances, we estimate that compiling this information would be a lengthy activity likely to take well in excess of 18 hours.

Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are not required to comply with a request if we estimate that the cost of doing so would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’. The appropriate limit for this office has been set by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 as being £450 (or 18 hours at £25/hour). On that basis, we are declining to handle your request as currently framed.

To assist you I have attached a copy of our conflict of interest policy and the supporting guidance and examples. As you will see, our clinical advisers are asked to confirm that they have no conflict of interest in each case. This means that we would have to look into each of the cases where we have obtained clinical advice to compile a complete list of declared interests. I should also add that conflicts will often not become apparent until a member of staff is involved in a case. For example, a caseworker might be allocated a complaint we have received from the caseworker’s neighbour. The caseworker would be required to declare this conflict immediately and seek advice from their line manager in line with our policy. However, this potential conflict of interest would not have been recorded on the employee’s personnel file before they were allocated the case.

We publish information each year in our Annual Report and Resource Accounts about our Directors’ interests. I have attached a copy of the relevant pages to this email. I can also confirm the declared interests for the Ombudsman and our Chief Operating Officer. The Ombudsman is a trustee for a charity, the National Endorsement for Science, Technology and Arts, and has a family member working for an NHS Trust. Our Chief Operating Officer has also declared that she has a family member working for an NHS Trust.

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

FOI & DP Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

From your internal files, it is now my understanding that clinical advisors come into the senior officer category and therefore the information on their registered conflicts of interest should have been given, along with that of directors.

Because, the PHSO's employee Relations Manager states in the internal file. ' as the clinicians are SA1's and SA3's, they come into the senior officer bracket' .

In the PHSO's Conflict of Interest policy it states :

'The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available' , as JM of the FoI department states.

The document should spell out exactly what conflicts of interest clinicians have ..In which areas of expertise and with which health boards.

I would therefore like to read the register of interests for Senior Staff for the past five years... Since it is 'openly available ' but not included with this reply..

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

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

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for posting Jt Oakley.
In the PHSO's Conflict of Interest policy it states :

'The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available' , as JM of the FoI department states.

The document should spell out exactly what conflicts of interest clinicians have ..In which areas of expertise and with which health boards.
WHERE IS IT? Surely the PHSO didnt forget to disclose this information!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's not as if the FoI office didn't know it existed.

It is mentioned on my SAR.

It appears that they have to list their names - in order to avoid accusations of corruption, as it's government money.

Ie If a senior or executive officer should employ say.. Purely hypothetically ..A partner in an ex-business - they'd would have to declare it on the register.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

Your information request (FDN-192407)

Further to your email of 25 May 2014, I am writing in response to your information request.

Rather than contributing to a centralised register of interests for senior staff, clinical advisers instead complete records as part of their individual HR records. In addition, clinical advisers make a conflict of interest declaration in relation to each individual case on which they advise. This is because experienced clinicians will have, over the course of their career, worked in a range of different NHS settings and with a large number of different colleagues. It is therefore more practical and effective to assess a potential conflict of interest in relation to a specific case, so that an individual assessment can be made. I have attached the clinical advice form that advisers use to provide advice, in case it is useful to you.

Certain types of interests, such as the interests of senior managers and other key decision makers, are declared on an annual basis as part of PHSO’s Resource Accounts. For 2012/13, these are published on our website at: www.ombudsman.org.uk/annual-report-2012-... The Resource Accounts for previous years are available on our website at this address: www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/publicatio...

The 2013/14 Directors’ interests will be published with our Annual Report and Resource Accounts available on our website shortly and, because they will be available so soon, we have concluded that section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to your request for the Directors’ interests for the recent financial year, the exemption which applies to information intended for future publication. I hope this will not be too disappointing but would like to assure you that the information will shortly be available.

I hope that this information is helpful. If you are unhappy with my decision not to give you all the information you requested, 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

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

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [email address]

show quoted sections

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 'Disclosure log'.

Thank you for the blank form but, as you will be aware, it is not what I requested.

This is the request:

In the PHSO's Conflict of Interest policy it states :

'The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO
publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available' , as JM of
the FoI department states.

The document should spell out exactly what conflicts of interest
clinicians have ..In which areas of expertise and with which health
boards.

I would therefore like to read the register of interests for Senior
Staff for the past five years... Since it is 'openly available '
but not included with this reply.

:::::

If the PHSO ( JM) is stating that this register of senior staff grades is publically and openly available - and clinicians are of this grade - and the register is not available , then it should either retract this statement - or provide the Register.

It is now my understanding from you reply that you wish to retract the statement of 'openness, transparency and candour' and maintain secrecy of the Register of interests for some senior staff. Indeed, on that basis, it cannot be a Register of interest for all senior staff at all.

If the PHSO is making exceptions for some senior officers - because their disclosures of their interests do not stand up to public scrutiny, or that some senior officers are more equal than others and are above public scrutiny, then it should have stated so - and not proclaimed transparency.

Can you please confirm that the PHSO (JM) has therefore misinformed the public by stating this this Register is publically available , or provide it.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

We are writing in response to your email of 23 June 2014. We are sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request entitled ‘Disclosure log’.

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to our Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve Brown.

Mr Steve Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once his 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

Review Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

show quoted sections

Dear Complaintsphso,

Reminder for the Review of the Register of Interests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Complaintsphso, 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

D. Speers left an annotation ()

9 MONTHS we have been waiting.....whats taking so long?

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

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

 

Follow us on

[2]fb  [3]twitter  [4]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. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Dear Brown Steve,

For clarification.. The scope refers to 'all senior officers'

That's employees who receive a senior officer pay grade.

Before I refer this to the ICO, are you stating that every employee who is a PHSO senior officer grade - is on the register or not?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank You Jt......a fundamental flaw if left unanswered I'd say!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Referred to the ICO.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Referred to the ICO

Call our helpline 0303 123 1113

Report a concern about accessing information from a public body

1. Details of the organisation your concern is about

Organisation: PHSO

Contact name: Steve Brown

Address: The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Millbank Tower
Millbank
London

Postcode: SW1P 4QP

Telephone: Tel: 0345 015 4033

Email:

2. Your relationship with the organisation

'Customer', journalist.

3. What is your concern?

Select the option that best describes your concern.

The organisation did not respond to my request.. In part

The organisation sent only some of the information I asked for

yes

Something else. Please give details.

The organisation publically states that it provides details of all its senior officers on its disclosure list - but it fails to do so, while stating to PASC that it is 'transparent and open' in its dealings with NHS complainants.

NHS complainants cannot expect their cases to be judged by clinical advisors with clinical advisors conflicts of interests and qualifications kept secret from complainants.

Complainants should have the right to know who is judging their case if the PHSO's management leaders are stating publically to Parliament that it has improved the transparency in which its cases are run.

If the complainant cannot check that senior staff are sound.. ie...they have no court cases against them, or no outside interests which could affect their case, their only option is to go to Judicial Review after the case has been decided.

This recent case highlights the issue:

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/health/dis...

Disgruntled patient of government dentistry advisor reaches out-of-court settlement
17:00 06 June 2014by Tom Marshall
Richard Jordan
Richard Jordan

A retired phone engineer has received a £15,000 payout after taking legal action against a leading dentist for “ruining” his teeth.

Richard Jordan was a patient for more than 30 years of Dr Howard Myers, a former dentistry adviser to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, as well as the Brent and Harrow Health Authority.

Yet Mr Jordan, 65, claims the care provided by Dr Myers at his practice in Golders Green Road, Golders Green, left him unable to eat properly for two years.

The former BT engineer, of Agincourt Road, Gospel Oak, launched a legal claim in 2012 and, after a two-year battle, has finally secured a £15,000 payout in an out-of-court settlement.

He said: “Dr Myers treated me for more than 30 years. My teeth have been ruined and I now need to pay for expensive repeat treatment.

“I didn’t know my oral health was getting worse and I’ve now found out I’ve lost some of the bone in my mouth. Dr Myers left me in the dark.”

Mr Jordan suffers from gum disease and bone loss and faces dental therapy for the rest of his life.

Dr Myers is no longer practicing after voluntarily giving up his registration with the General Dental Council (GDC) in 2012.

At the time, he was due to face 18 allegations of providing poor care at a GDC hearing, following a complaint lodged by Mr Jordan.

Among the allegations, it was said Dr Myers had missed signs of gum disease, failed to diagnose 
infected molars, failed to treat tooth decay and fitted a crown so badly that it caused a fracture.

Dr Myers’ voluntary removal from the dental register resulted in the GDC hearing never taking place, but Mr Jordan was determined to pursue the matter.

Mr Jordan’s solicitor, Heather Williams, from the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Our client will need extensive dental treatment ongoing.”

Please send us copies of:

 your information request; and

 any acknowledgement or other response you have received from the organisation.

From: Jt Oakley

25 May 2014

Dear foiofficer,

From your internal files, it is now my understanding that clinical
advisors come into the senior officer category and therefore the
information on their registered conflicts of interest should have
been given, along with that of directors.

Because, the PHSO's employee Relations Manager states in the
internal file. ' as the clinicians are SA1's and SA3's, they come
into the senior officer bracket' .

In the PHSO's Conflict of Interest policy it states :

'The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO
publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available' , as JM of
the FoI department states.

The document should spell out exactly what conflicts of interest
clinicians have ..In which areas of expertise and with which health
boards.

I would therefore like to read the register of interests for Senior
Staff for the past five years... Since it is 'openly available '
but not included with this reply..

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Link to this
Please read both requests - which should be taken in conjunction :

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

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

4. What have you done to raise your concern with the organisation?

See requests:

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

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

Please send copies of any documents you have showing how you raised your concern with the organisation.

5. What did the organisation say?

See above

It is justifiable for senior officers to provide the public with details of their interests -and desirable for them to provide their qualifications, as they make judgements on PHSO medical cases.

The public cannot be expected to accept clinical judgements - without checking the private interests and being provided with the names of those making the judgements before their cases are investigated.

As to the court case above.... The PHSO is not re-investigating the cases in which he made decisions.

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

The PHSO's conflict of interests policy gives no exclusions to any senior staff.

Either the PHSO is misinforming the public, or the FOIA team are mistaken in its diverse response....with one employee stating on record that the register of all senior staff's interests is publically available (and the Conflict of Interests policy stating so), and yet the request reply states that not all senior staff are included.

Logically it cannot be both.

The time element specified in the response for searching fur the information is a red herring.

1. Clinical advisors would have to state any PHSO-external interests and qualifications - on applying for the job.

2. ....Or the PHSO requires no information that might affect the judgement of its future employees on its application forms.

Which would seem to be extremely reckless on the part of the PHSO, since it's cases are open to judicial review.

The required information should therefore be readily available.

Please send copies of any documents you have showing the organisation’s response to your concern.

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

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

6. Reference number

Please tell us any reference number that the organisation has given you, eg account number, policy number etc.

7. Your details

Or, if you’re filling this in on behalf of someone else, put their details here.

Jt oakley

8. Declaration

 I have included all the necessary supporting evidence.

 I understand that the ICO may need to share the information I have provided so they can look into my concern. I have indicated any documents or information that I don’t want the ICO to share.

 The information I have provided is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.

 I understand that the ICO will electronically store the information relating to my concern including the documents I have provided and keep the electronic records for two years, or for longer if it is appropriate. The ICO will destroy the original hard copies after six months.

I agree.

Yes

9. Sending your form to us

By email

1. Fill in this form and save it to your computer.

Open a new email, with ‘Concern about accessing information from a

public body’ in the subject line.

If you have all your supporting documents electronically, attach them to

your email.

Email the completed form to casework@ico.org.uk

By post

If you have only paper copies of any of your supporting documents, print this form and post it with all your supporting documents to:

Customer Contact
Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The ICO Decision:

I will post it- if I get an email.

Meanwhile, the ICO decision says that although the PHSO was stating senior officers conflicts of interests are all publicly available, despite being clinicians having the senior officer pay grade - SA1 -SA3 - they are not, in fact, PHSO senior officers and it was only referring to 'senior staff' , who are also on the same pay grade.

An argument which I'm afraid escapes me.

:::.

The PHSO therefore argues the public - the complainants- have no right to know if any of it's clinicians have outside financial interests - such as those of private health companies- which may be in conflict with the assessment of their complaints. Even during a period of NHS using more private health companies.

:::

In a court of law, the public has the right to know who is giving a professional opinion a case, and what his/ her qualifications are, as fairness and openess to each party is inherent in the British system.

Why do the PHSO's clinical experts demand anonymity?

Would they be allowed to remain unnamed and hooded to protect their identities in court?

The questions which need to asked are:

1. Why do their financial interests need be secret?

2. Are the qualifications of PHSO clinicians so suspect that they may not be divulged?

Fraud:

......A recent fraud case involving a PHSO advisor, who the PHSO presumably similarly screened ......

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

:::

Clearly the complaints system will remain unequal with say, the NHS providing a phalanx of clinical advisors to advise on complainants cases, with the PHSO denying complaints the right to know whether their 'independent?'clinical advisors have financial interests which may directly impact on their case.

Or even of there are any current court cases about them.

If anyone ever disputed the arrogance of the quasi-legal PHSO, it secretiveness in this matter and its contradiction in its 'transparency, openess and candour' statements this a fine demonstration of it.

::

Another PHSO request on clinical advisors:

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)
Date:
Public Authority: Address:
Complainant: Address:

Decision (including any steps ordered)
1. The complainant has requested information relating to the register of staff interests.
2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman does not hold any further information within the scope of the request.
3. The Commissioner does not require any steps to be taken as a result of this decision notice.
Request and response
4. On 15 November 2013, the complainant wrote to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and requested information in the following terms:
“Could you please send new an up to date disclosure log if employees interests starting from January 2011.”

5. PHSO responded on 13 December 2013 and refused to provide the requested information. It cited section 12 of the FOIA (cost of compliance) as its basis for doing so.
6. The complainant made a further request on 25 May 2014 in the following terms:
“From your internal files, it is now my understanding that clinical advisors come into the senior officer category and therefore the information on their registered conflicts of interest should have been given, along with that of the directors.
Because, the PHSO’s employee Relations Manager states in the internal file. ‘as the clinicians are SA1’s and SA3’s, they come into the senior officer bracket.’
In the PHSO’s Conflict of Interest policy it states:
‘The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available’, as JM of the FOI department states.
This document should spell out exactly what conflicts of interest clinicians have...In which areas of expertise and with which health boards.
I would therefore like to read the register of interests for Senior Staff for the past five years... Since it is 'openly available' but not included with this reply”
7. PHSO responded on 25 May 2014 and provided a copy of the clinical advice form and advised that interests of senior managers are declared as part of its Resource Accounts. It also provided a link to its website for previous reports.
8. PHSO further stated that 2013/2014 Directors’ interests would be published shortly and therefore cited section 22 of the FOIA.
9. Following an internal review PHSO wrote to the complainant on 18 August 2014. It stated that it did not hold any further information within the scope of the request.

Scope of the case
10. The complainant contacted the Commissioner on 14 November 2014 to complain about the way her request for information had been handled. The Commissioner considers from the nature of her request of 25 May

2014 and the outline of her complaint to him that her issue is specifically about the fact that clinical/nursing advisers should be considered senior members of staff and therefore should fall within the scope of the request.
11. The Commissioner considers the scope of this case to be to determine whether this is in fact the case and also whether the PHSO holds further information falling within the scope of the request which it has not provided to the complainant. As no complaint has been specifically made about the PHSO’s application of section 22 the Commissioner has not investigated or made a decision on this.
Reasons for decision
Section 1(1) – information not held
12. Section 1(1)(a) of the FOIA requires a public authority to inform the complainant in writing whether or not recorded information is held that is relevant to the request. Section 1(1)(b) requires that if the requested information is held by the public authority it must be disclosed to the complainant unless a valid refusal notice has been issued.
13. In scenarios where there is a dispute as to whether a public authority holds any recorded information falling within the scope of a request the Commissioner, following the lead of a number of Information Tribunal decisions, applies the civil standard of the balance of probabilities.
14. In other words, in order to determine such complaints the Commissioner must decide whether on the balance of probabilities a public authority holds any recorded information falling within the scope of a request (or was held at the time of such a request). Without evidence to suggest that PHSO holds further information, this argument cannot carry weight.
15. In correspondence with the Commissioner the complainant explained that she considered there was a contradiction in PHSO statements. The complainant considered that the interests of all senior officers are publically available, or they are not.
16. The Commissioner invited PHSO to review its handling of the request. It became clear at this point the complainant’s concern had been caused in part by a fundamental misunderstanding of who the phrase “senior staff” applies to in its policy and guidance.
17. PHSO went on to explain that the complaint to the Commissioner is, in part, predicated on the fact that its clinical and nursing advisers are senior staff. The complainant has highlighted references in papers

previously provided to her that their pay grades are the same or equivalent of senior staff. It therefore appears that they are or should be included in the information PHSO publishes about the registered interests of senior members of staff.
18. PHSO stated that it uses the phrase “senior staff” to refer to senior managers i.e. staff at the top of the organisation. Although clinical advisers may well be paid at a senior grade (commensurate to their skills and experience in the NHS), they do not have a management role and are not directly responsible for leading the organisation. Clinical advisers provide advice on the clinical and nursing aspects arising in complaints which is then used by PHSO caseworkers and managers in deciding what decisions to make.
19. PHSO acknowledged that there may at times be a conflict of interest, but this is managed and recorded differently. In the first instance, all staff are asked to declare any interests/potential conflicts and this information will then be held on their HR file. However, clinical and nursing advisers all have current or former links to the NHS which means it is more practical to consider a potential conflict on a case by case basis. As such, clinical and nursing advisers also declare interests in relation to the specific case they have been asked to advise on, rather than on a central register.
20. Therefore in response to the request for a register of interests which includes clinical and nursing advisers PHSO has stated that it does not record or include that information in a central register of interests. In addition this is not published because clinical and nursing advisers are not considered to be senior managers.
21. The Commissioner is mindful of the complainant’s genuine reasons for making this request. However, it is clear that the terminology used of “senior staff” is where the problem has arisen.
22. PHSO has explained that pay scales for clinical and nursing advisers may well be the same as “senior staff”, however due to their role of providing advice rather than management responsibilities or leading the organisation, they are not considered to be “senior staff” in the PHSO structure and therefore would not be included in the registers it publishes.
23. Each adviser is asked on a case by case basis if they have any conflict of interest i.e. if they have any links with the organisation being complained about. The adviser completes a form and it remains with the case file.

previously provided to her that their pay grades are the same or equivalent of senior staff. It therefore appears that they are or should be included in the information PHSO publishes about the registered interests of senior members of staff.
18. PHSO stated that it uses the phrase “senior staff” to refer to senior managers i.e. staff at the top of the organisation. Although clinical advisers may well be paid at a senior grade (commensurate to their skills and experience in the NHS), they do not have a management role and are not directly responsible for leading the organisation. Clinical advisers provide advice on the clinical and nursing aspects arising in complaints which is then used by PHSO caseworkers and managers in deciding what decisions to make.
19. PHSO acknowledged that there may at times be a conflict of interest, but this is managed and recorded differently. In the first instance, all staff are asked to declare any interests/potential conflicts and this information will then be held on their HR file. However, clinical and nursing advisers all have current or former links to the NHS which means it is more practical to consider a potential conflict on a case by case basis. As such, clinical and nursing advisers also declare interests in relation to the specific case they have been asked to advise on, rather than on a central register.
20. Therefore in response to the request for a register of interests which includes clinical and nursing advisers PHSO has stated that it does not record or include that information in a central register of interests. In addition this is not published because clinical and nursing advisers are not considered to be senior managers.
21. The Commissioner is mindful of the complainant’s genuine reasons for making this request. However, it is clear that the terminology used of “senior staff” is where the problem has arisen.
22. PHSO has explained that pay scales for clinical and nursing advisers may well be the same as “senior staff”, however due to their role of providing advice rather than management responsibilities or leading the organisation, they are not considered to be “senior staff” in the PHSO structure and therefore would not be included in the registers it publishes.
23. Each adviser is asked on a case by case basis if they have any conflict of interest i.e. if they have any links with the organisation being complained about. The adviser completes a form and it remains with the case file.

24. Having considered the response provided by the PHSO the Commissioner is satisfied that the definition of senior staff does not include clinical and nursing staff. He is therefore satisfied that it has provided all the information it does hold about senior staff conflict of interest records or links to it other than that to which it has applied section 22 which the complainant has not complained about.
Other Matters
25. The Commissioner notes that PHSO does hold the ‘building blocks’ to compile a register for all other staff if this information was requested. However in order to be able to provide the information it would need to be extracted from individual HR files and/or complaints case files where it may be in part recorded and then would need to be put into a register.
26. The Commissioner is therefore also mindful that if PHSO were to attempt to compile such a register for the purposes of a response to a request for information, it would be highly likely to invoke section 12 (costs to comply) or section 40(2) (third party personal data) of the FOIA.

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