Guidance for Balancing Evidence - May 2020

J Roberts made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

You have recently released guidance on balancing evidence that can be viewed at this web address:

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

Your rationale:

"The Clinical Advice Review Final Report was published on 21 March 2019. It highlighted a number of key themes about how we balance evidence. Complainants said they felt their evidence was given less weight than that of the organisationcomplained about.

Caseworkers said it was often difficult to weigh evidence from both sides of the complaint, due to organisations often having more written evidence than complainants.In response to the Clinical Advice Review, we have produced new caseworker guidance on assessing the balance of evidence. This guidance sets out the approach we will take when considering and assessing evidence.

Evidence is information we look at when we consider a complaint. This may include, but is not limited to, complainants’ accounts (verbal or written), an organisation’s policies and guidance, clinical records,and advice from our advisers."

1. Please provide a copy of the guidance that caseworkers previously adhered to.

2. Please confirm that this guidance applies to both parliamentary and health service complaints.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

 

RE: Your information request: R0001225

                            

I write in response to your email to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO) dated 11 May 2020 requesting information under the
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

 

Request

 

You have recently released guidance on balancing evidence that can be
viewed at this web address:

 

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

 

Your rationale:

 

"The Clinical Advice Review Final Report was published on 21 March 2019. 
It highlighted a number of key themes about how we balance evidence.
Complainants said they felt their evidence was given less weight than that
of the organisation complained about.

 

Caseworkers said it was often difficult to weigh evidence from both sides
of the complaint, due to organisations often having more written evidence
than complainants. In response to the Clinical Advice Review, we have
produced new caseworker guidance on assessing the balance of evidence.
This guidance sets out the approach we will take when considering and
assessing evidence.

 

Evidence is information we look at when we consider a complaint.  This may
include, but is not limited to, complainants’ accounts (verbal or
written), an organisation’s policies and guidance, clinical records, and
advice from our advisers."

 

1.  Please provide a copy of the guidance that caseworkers previously
adhered to.

 

2.  Please confirm that this guidance applies to both parliamentary and
health service complaints.

 

Response

 

We can confirm the previous guidance referred to above is part of the
Service Model main guidance currently published on our website. The
Service Model policy and guidance applies to both health and parliamentary
cases, unless specified otherwise. I have provided a link below to the
Service Model main guidance:

 

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

 

The new document released containing the updated guidance will be part of
the new Service Model main guidance and is intended for future publication
within the next month or so.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way your information request
has been processed, it is open to you to request an internal review in
writing or by email to [3][PHSO request email]. Beyond that,
it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office
([4]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [5]www.ombudsman.org.uk  

References

Visible links
1. https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...
2. https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...
3. mailto:[PHSO request email]
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/
5. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"1.21 If we do not have an email address then the intake caseworker should contact the complainant in writing explaining we need further information before we can consider their case. The case should then be closed as withdrawn. (Policy requirement)."

So, a letter requesting further information is sent to the complainant...and his case is closed. Is the complainant told it has been closed?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

PACAC 23 November 2020:

https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevi...

'Q24. Mr Jones: Mr Behrens, you have published a document setting out the way that you balance evidence that is provided to you. Your guidance says that on request you will share theevidence that you have considered. Can you say why you do not, as a matter of course, routinely share the whole body of evidence with the complainants and the organisations complained about?

Rob Behrens: Yes . I can say that we are following very closely the recommendations of Sir Liam Donaldson and Sir Alex Allan to make sure that we put as much material with complainants and bodies in jurisdiction as is appropriate. As a result of that report, we have trialled the issue of showing clinical advice to complainants and bodies in jurisdiction before we reach provisional views to make sure that people feel involved in the process. Liam Donaldson said he thought that people felt excluded by the work that clinical advisers did.

That is very important, but it is also important, as I hope you will accept, that sometimes complainants feel overloaded by the information that they are given.In our pilot, we discovered that it is not always welcome that people get the clinical advice in advance of the provisional view.My answer to your point is it is an important principle that we share information with complainants and with bodies in jurisdiction equally, but we need to be careful, first, to make sure we do not unnecessarily lose time in conducting the investigation and,secondly,arecarrying people’s confidence that it is worthwhile.

Q25 Mr Jones: What is the response of complainants to that method of operating? Has anyone expressed any concern that their evidence has not been properly considered?'