How to make a formal complaint against the chief operating officer

Jt Oakley 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 partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The PHSO complaints system seems to be extraordinarily unbalanced and unfair to a complainant in that a complaint about a PHSO officer is handled by an officer subordinate to that officer. Clearly there should be a professional distance.

An analogy might be drawn between this system and that in a British court in that case files for the prosecution are not handled, or inspected, by the clerk supporting the defence.

This biased system is run by the chief operating officer and if complainants object they are given the choice of complying, withdrawing the request or proceeding to a judicial review.

Given this background, and since:

1 It has already been established that the correct procedure us to make a complaint to an officers line manager,

2. And given that this complaints system is the responsibility of the chief operating officer, whose line manager is Dame Julie Mellor.

3. How would a complainant make their complaint to Dame Julie Mellor?

As complainants are not allowed to contact Dame Julie Mellor .....and therefore cannot complain about the chief operating officers organisation of the complainant-unfriendly and inherently unfair PHSO complaint system?

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
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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
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the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Jt Oakley

Your information request (FDN-177424)

I write further to your email of 1 November 2013 in which you ask how to make a complaint about the Chief Operating Officer.

You can make a complaint about the Chief Operating Officer by writing to Dame Julie Mellor.

If you want to correspond further about your case please contact us separately as www.whatdotheyknow.com should not be used to discuss personal information in relation to your complaint.

Yours sincerely

Claire Helm
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
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 foiofficer,

Thank you for telling me.

As far as I am able to ascertain from complainants, it has been a mystery, as no complaint has ever been receipted. And Dame Julie does not provide an email address to complainants.

However, as you still have not provided Dame Julie's email address, how are complainants able to email her?

Or are you suggesting that they pay postage and recorded delivery fees?

Surely discriminatory against the less affluent of the community?
Are their complaints not as valuable as those who can afford postage costs?

...And, if you bother you read the request carefully, you will find that it's a general question ...and not a personal question, so please do not try and suggest that I should continue this simple factual request off line.

The PASC committee, the phsothefacts website and the press is are clearly the correct places for that.

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

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 'How to make a formal complaint against the chief operating officer'.

No email address for Dame Julie Mellor. See clarification.

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

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

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 'How to make a formal complaint against the chief operating officer'.

No email address for Dame Julie Mellor... to which to forward a complaint.

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

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

Dear foiofficer,

Please note:

As Julie Mellor has out her business profile is on LinkedIn, why is contact with her - via a telephone number and email address, at the PHSO - not justified information for the public ?

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=...

Members of LinkedIn can reach her by email.

So why can't the public, who pay her salary, at her workplace?

She is now in a public position...... Obviously if she had stayed with PwC she would not have to be accessible to the public, via email and telephone extension number, as the ICO judgement indicates.

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

C Rock left an annotation ()

Arrogantly don't seem to budge on this one - might reveal too much. In the interests of clarity and openness could we not see the posts, names, contacts, reporting lines etc. on reference.data.gov.uk/gov-structure/organogram/?pubbod=homes-communities-agency as many other gov. agencies, including ombudsmen, are?

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PROTECT

Dear Ms [first name redacted] Oakley

I am writing in response to your email of 2 December 2013. I am sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information request titled, 'How to make a formal complaint against the chief operating officer.'

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to the 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

Hannah Jones
Review Team Support Manager
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
T: 0300 061 4076
E: [email address]
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 ()

Oh dear, not Steve again! He is keeping busy.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It does seem to be a little Kingdom in itself. It has such a fortress mentality.

The only person who is publically stating that it needs to move into the 21st century and be me more open is - Dame Julie ..to PASC.

I'm now wondering whether or not the rest if the staff realise this, or if she was just making it up as she went along.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I've made a formal complaint about the PHSO's self-reflective complaints system.

In my opinion..as with everyone else I've met via the PASC Complaints committee, this system is designed to protect the PHSO from admitting its mistakes. Illogical for what is supposed to be a body investigating the complaints of others.

So you cannot complain to the chief operating manager's line manager, Dame Julie Mellor, as she doesn't respond.

Therefore it's legitimate to ask for an email address to which to send any complaint to make sure that the right line manager has received the complaint.

Dear Complaintsphso,

Jt Oakley left an annotation (20 December 2013)

I've made a formal complaint about the PHSO's self-reflective complaints system.

In my opinion..as with everyone else I've met via the PASC Complaints committee, this system is designed to protect the PHSO from admitting its mistakes. Illogical for what is supposed to be a body investigating the complaints of others.

So you cannot complain to the chief operating manager's line manager, Dame Julie Mellor, as she doesn't respond.

Therefore it's legitimate to ask for an email address to which to send any complaint to make sure that the right line manager has received the complaint.

Link to this

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

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Jt Oakley

Your information request (FDN-179942)

I write in reply to your email of 10 December 2013. As you know, requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are for recorded information held by a public organisation. Requests cannot be for opinion and we are not obliged to create new information to answer your questions. Though it is not entirely clear what recorded information you are requesting, I have interpreted your email as a request for Dame Julie Mellor’s telephone number and email address.

However, it will not be possible for us release this information to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This information is exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it constitutes Dame Julie’s personal information. This is in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance about releasing information.

It might be helpful if I explain that although Dame Julie is the named Ombudsman, it is neither possible or practical for her to be available to speak to everyone who brings a complaint to our office. Instead, 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 and who are the points of contact for people to discuss their cases.

I am sure you will also understand that, as the Chair of the organisation, if she was personally involved in the cases of everyone who contacted her directly, she would be preventing people from getting the quality and speed of service they might expect. That is why the case correspondence she receives is automatically dealt with by the relevant member of staff who has the skills, experience, and knowledge of the case to provide a service to those seeking our help in resolving their complaints. People do not need Dame Julie’s direct contact details to access our service. Our contact details are on our website for everyone to access our service (www.ombudsman.org.uk).

If you are unhappy with my application of section 40(2) you may request an internal review. If you remain dissatisfied it is open to you to approach the Information Commissioner’s Office. Details of how to do so can be found on their website (www.ico.org.uk).

Yours sincerely

Claire Helm
Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
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 foiofficer,

Formal Review

I wonder if there has been a mistake?

Because you appear to be answering someone else's request.

The title is 'How to make a Formal Complaint against the chief operating officer'

Your reply seems to indicate that you assume that I am asking why Dame Julie Mellor doesn't investigate every case.

Therefore, I can only assume that two responses have inadvertently been mixed up.

However, I will clarify the request above for you.

This is about making a formal complaint to the line manager of the chief operating officer.

Here's some evidence from the PCSU, which explains why the service is failing ..and why a complainant might want to make a complaint about the way this inadequate service is run by ....the chief operating officer.

::::

Written evidence from the Public and Commercial Services Union [PHS0049]

PCS represents around 180 employees at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), the majority of whom undertake complaints investigation work.

PCS is responding to the Select Committee’s call for evidence because of our members’ widely recognised commitment to the organisation and all it stands for. They are also keenly aware that the effectiveness or efficiency of Office policy can be undermined by poor management, unwise allocation of resources, lack of attention to risk, and a failure to recognise when capacity is over stretched.

Staff at PHSO are used to change. The current Ombudsman’s ‘More Investigations for More People’ was not therefore something that many staff opposed in principle. Indeed, they understood that under the previous Ombudsman (and despite the thoroughness of the enquiries and assessments that we undertook) some complainants felt they had been short-changed because their complaints had not been formally investigated. Indeed, Assessor staff were told they could not make ‘findings’ as such and were instead told their job was to determine, not whether there had been maladministration and an injustice flowing from it, but whether there were indications that there might be. They were also told that even if there were such signs, there had to be a ‘worthwhile outcome’ before the case could be investigated. As, in most cases, Assessors identified that the Health or Parliamentary body had done nothing wrong, or if they had, an appropriate apology and/or appropriate compensation had been offered, or the case was resolved by other means, the number of cases which remained to be formally investigated (by another team) was very small.

In terms of keeping pace with the work coming into the Office, this system of working appeared to work quite well. However, especially on the Health side, staff became aware that in an effort to ensure that the Office did not accumulate a backlog (particularly when the Healthcare Commission ceased to exist) an increasing number of complainants did not have their complaints fully investigated. On the Parliamentary side, this was less of a problem. But even here, complainants were understandably confused and irritated at being told - when their complaints were not being taken any further - that their complaint would ‘not be investigated’, thus giving them the impression that staff had not properly considered their complaint. This was despite the fact that Assessment work involved a thorough review of the evidence, enquiries of the bodies involved, and the drawing up of detailed conclusions that were quality-assured by their managers. The bodies being complained about also complained that they were largely unaware of the outcomes as staff were not permitted to send them copies of final letters in cases we did not formally investigate.

The strategic shift towards investigating more cases was, therefore, welcomed by our members. But from the outset they questioned how, with a reduced budget, decreasing staff numbers, and the hugely increased work load resulting from the proposed tenfold increase in investigations (4,000 instead of 400)- the Office could possibly cope. It was feared that a massive backlog of cases would build up, and so it has proved.

The change in working practices has indeed delivered more investigations, around 900 by the beginning of December 2013, with an optimistic forecast of 2,200 being completed by the end of April 2014. However, unless there is a dramatic change in policy or circumstances, this will be at the inevitable cost of ever lengthening delays in cases being allocated to investigators. These backlogs, which, in mid to late October 2013 comprised 470 complaints awaiting initial processing, plus 443 in the investigation queue, then quickly escalated at the front end, but reduced at the investigation end as investigators completed the remaining old style assessments and could take on more work.

This spiralling problem, which PCS predicted at the outset, after many months resulted in a decision to throw more resources into a beefed up Customer Services Directorate. This included hiring 25 extra staff which the Office had not budgeted for, at inflated agency rates. Crucially, however, we were told, there was only enough money to keep them in post until the end of March 2014. Thus, although the Ombudsman has ‘cascaded’ down to its staff the news that the so called ‘bulge’ has been significantly reduced, it is set to soar again as soon as the agency staff can no longer be employed, unless significant process changes are made soon.

Moreover, whilst one problem is being temporarily resolved, on the investigation side, as at the beginning of December 2013, over 700 complaints were sitting awaiting allocation to investigators. Meanwhile, staff are fielding telephone calls, letters and emails from irate complainants asking when PHSO will get round to dealing with their cases, which in most instances have already been log-jammed for several years in various bodies’ complaints systems.

The typical refrain from senior management has been ‘crisis what crisis - things will settle down. It’s a new system and it will gradually bed in; be upbeat; get on with your work and don’t worry’. But PCS is worried. Whilst superficially it looks like the Office is making progress by having closed 900 cases already this year, this does not take into account the fact that at this time last year we had also closed upwards of 1500 further assessments.[1] It is not coincidental that the current backlog of cases corresponds closely with the difference between these two numbers. This means that the increase in investigations has been at the cost of hugely increased waiting times for complainants and with no guarantee that the Office can sustain throughput at an acceptable rate at either end. So, we can keep turning out investigation reports, but unless the Office designs a new casework process - or employs more investigators and customer services officers, along with the increased financial resource this would require- this backlog will become unsustainable very quickly.

Short of the Treasury coming up with more funding, or the Ombudsman pruning its well-staffed external facing departments, or cutting back on other less essential budget heads - including the £430,000 set aside for consultants in 2014/15 and the controversial £120,000 ‘Board Development Budget’ - all of which, at present, seem unlikely, the solution is not immediately obvious. We can see that the new Director of Operations and Investigations is desperately trying to find a survival plan that will work but his options appear limited, unless he can find a way of investigating more straightforward complaints more quickly than at present (something that we did previously by classing them as assessments).

A significant problem, that was not addressed prior to the start of the new system, is created by our legislation. As has been recognised in various circles including in evidence submitted to this Committee, the legislation that defines the PHSO’s role (and those of other Ombudsman services) is in need of modernising. PCS fully supports these moves which, when properly considered and appropriately funded, should provide a significantly improved service for complainants and public bodies.

However, for the time being we have to work to an old process, which has been further refined by the interpretation of Judicial Reviews over the years. As a result, we have a raft of policies relating to formal investigations (which did not apply to further assessments) that make a high turnover difficult to achieve. One example is that every draft investigation report has to be sent to the complainant and the body (or several bodies in some health cases) for comments, which can then sometimes take up to a month to emerge and can often be quite extensive. This happens even when a complaint is without merit or where maladministration is clear. ‘Be proportionate’ senior managers say, but that is often easier said than done, particularly when there is more than one body involved and there are medical advisers to consult with. These changes mean that while 70% of further assessments were completed in 40 working days, the standard target for our new process is 4 months – and at present this is not being met.

Finally, during the past two years, staff morale has plummeted and the most recent ‘People Survey’, whose details PASC members should now be familiar with, attests to that. The news that following a routine ‘health check’ the Office was told it would fail to gain ‘Investors in People’ re-accreditation next year is a further dismal reflection of the slippage in standards and direction. But this desperate situation will only be resolved if the leadership team and the Board, led by the Ombudsman, engage with their staff, and make a realistic appraisal of how things are, rather than how they would like them to be. We need to take positive and realistic steps to resolve the problems we currently face and focus on the individual complainants that PHSO was set up to serve.

December 2013

::::

Could you please therefore therefore re-read the request and state what the procedure us - by email - of making a formal complaint about the chief operating officer to her/ his line manager, Dame Julie Mellor.

Nb

If there has been a mistake, please send me the correct response within the time frame.

However,

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 ()

Excellent Jt Oakley!

Della left an annotation ()

"It might be helpful if I explain that although Dame Julie is the named Ombudsman, it is neither possible or practical for her to be available to speak to everyone who brings a complaint to our office. Instead, 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 and who are the points of contact for people to discuss their cases." Claire Helm - PHSO

Dame Julie Mellor: "The other thing I would say is that, as a leader, there is nothing like listening to people yourself, and I have spent a large part of the last two years listening to our customers myself." Dame Julie Mellor to PASC 16.12.13

Spot the difference between these two statements.

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Steve Brown

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

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

 

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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

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I'm still no wiser as to the process of making a complant against the chief operating officer via his/ her line manager.

And surely a complaint of this nature cannot be sent through the normal portal?

Referred to the ICO.

Dear Brown Steve,

Please only reply via this website on all FoI requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

PROTECT
Mrs Treharne Oakley

4 March 2014

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Your FOIA request to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Case Reference Number: FS50529798
PHSO Reference: FDN-177424
Your Reference: How to make a formal complaint against the chief operating officer (WDTK)

Dear Mrs TO

Further to our letter of 6 February 2014, I am writing to inform you that your case has now been allocated to me to investigate. This letter will explain how I intend to do this. It will also provide you with contact details so that you can get in touch with me if you need to.

What happens now

Where possible the Information Commissioner prefers complaints to be resolved informally and we ask both parties to be open to compromise. With this in mind, I will write to the public authority and ask it to revisit your request. It may wish to reverse or amend its position. If it does, it will contact you again directly about this.

In any event, it must provide us with its full and final arguments in support of its position. Once I receive its arguments, I will consider its reply before either contacting you to discuss the matter further or preparing a decision notice. Further information is available on the Information Commissioner’s website:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/~/media...

The request

On 1 November 2013 you explained to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (the PHSO) that you wished to submit a complaint about the Chief Operating Officer whose line manager is Dame Julie Mellor.

You therefore requested information of the following description:

“How would a complainant make their complaint to Dame Julie Mellor?”

On 29 November 2013 the PHSO responded. It informed you that you can make a complaint about the Chief Operating Officer by writing to Dame Julie Mellor.

You requested an internal review on 2 December 2013. You explained you required an email address for Dame Julie Mellor. On 10 January 2014, the PHSO sent you the outcome of its internal review. It explained that it had interpreted your request as a request for Dame Julie Mellor’s telephone number and email address.

The PHSO explained that it considered this information to be exempt under section 40(2) of the FOIA. It explained that it constitutes Dame Julie Mellor’s personal information. The PHSO explained that although Dame Julie is the named Ombudsman it is not possible for her to speak to everyone who brings a complaint to the office. The PHSO case workers are the points of contact for people to discuss their cases.

You responded on the same date and explained that you wished to make a formal complaint to the line manager of the PHSO’s Chief Operating Officer. On 29 January 2014 the PHSO explained that it considered it had dealt with your request correctly.

The scope of the case

The focus of my investigation will be to determine whether the PHSO handled your request in accordance with the FOIA. Specifically, I will look at whether the PHSO is entitled to rely on section 40(2) as a basis for refusing to provide you with the telephone number and email address of Dame Julie Mellor.

Please contact me within the next 10 working days, that is, by 18 March 2014 if there are matters other than these that you believe should be addressed. This will help avoid any unnecessary delay in investigating your complaint. If I do not hear from you by this date, my investigation will focus only upon the matters identified above.

If you have any queries at any time you are welcome to write to me at the above address, at casework@ico.org.uk (please ensure that you quote the above case reference). Alternatively, please telephone me .....

Yours sincerely

Nicola Humphries
Lead Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

And if the Operations Manager will not devise a fair complaints system - in which the Head of Review reviews her own work, complainants will all end up trying to contact Dame Julie Mellor - which can be seen from the number of requests for the same type of information on WDTK.

Therefore, logically, for people who wish to complain about this extraordinary set-up, the only person that complainants can address their complaint to is the Operations Manager's line manager, who is Dame Julie Mellor - so her email address should be provided for the public - as her postal address is.

And in this day and age it is reasonable that the public should have an email address.. For three reasons:

1. The expense of writing, duplicating and posting.

2. Being eco-responsible - by paper and petrol saving etc.

3. The fact that the PHSO often does not receipt letters.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

5th March 2014

Case Reference Number FS50529798

Dear Mrs To

When we investigate cases we consider whether the requested information should have been provided to the complainant at the time of the request. However we do not investigate cases where the requested information has subsequently been provided to the complainant by the public authority. This is because we cannot consider an exemption which has effectively been withdrawn.

In this case your information request of 1 November 2013 asked the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (the PHSO) how a complaint could be made to Dame Julie Mellor and you subsequently confirmed you required an email address.

As this email address has now been provided to you, we would therefore now not investigate the PHSO’s application of section 40(2) to your request.

I appreciate your concern that there is a wider issue to be considered, however the Information Commissioner can only consider exemptions applied under the FOIA to requests for specific recorded information. We have no jurisdiction to require the PHSO to publish this particular email address and to make it widely available.

It would appear that there is nothing further that can be investigated in this case and for this reason I should like to close it. However if I have misunderstood your email, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

Nicola Humphries
Lead Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I do not see Dame Julie Mellor's email address.

She is the correct line manager.

The PHSO seems to be stating that complaints on PHSO employees work should use the same address for complainants to send complaints about the NHS, where temporary staff can view complaints about a chief officer.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

oh yes.. Silly me.

Here it is:

julie.mellor@ombudsman.org.uk

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

We salute the PHSO for being open and transparent and finally providing the email address. It would have been extremely strange if they had continued to refuse to supply it. Very strange indeed. Dame Julie is the head of a public authority. We have every right what
Nevertheless - well done to them. I, certainly will be using this email. A lot.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

On 6 Mar 2014, at 12:40, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:

PROTECT

6th March 2014

Dear Mrs TO

Thank you for your email confirming the PHSO has not provided you with the email address you requested.

I shall now progress this case as outlined in my letter of 4 March 2014. I will therefore consider the PHSO's application of section 40(2) to this information.

Yours sincerely

Nicola Humphries
Lead Case Officer
Information Commissioner's Office

Dear ICO...

t's on file, she's on Linked-In a business site, which invites emails.

But really....Don't bother yourself if you are not going to read the ICO judgement and take this into consideration.

I would suggest that you read the WDTK website for information.

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO never gave me the email address.

Someone else did.

A.E. left an annotation ()

As regards the PHSO statement about DJMs email address:

"it constitutes Dame Julie’s personal information"

This is untrue. It is not her personal email address you are requesting it is her work one and it is:

julie.mellor@ombudsman.org.uk.

She won't reply however. She won't even have her PA reply on her behalf. She is too busy misspending hard-earned public money on sham investigations.

She's resigned anyway (the writing has been on the wall for a while): http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/new...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I've never known an organisation where you couldn't write to the person in control.

That's where the arrogance comes in.

They very rarely respond themselves and the letters are read by those working for them..to sort out matters of importance - from critical letters or those with an enquiry. And normally you would get a response of some sort.

Because at least your letter is logged somewhere in their office - so that - at a later date, if the matter becomes more pressing you have evidence that you tried to interest the ombudsman in your plight-and it was ignored.

But it's due to the Ombudsman's arrogance in its letter handling, that Dame Julie Mellor has had to resign.

Dont say we didn't tell you DJM.

:::

When Helen Marks wrote to Dame Julie Mellor about Mick Martin's cover up of an NHS chairman's sex-text and harassment Her letter was 'noted' , instead if being acted upon. As it was Mick Martin resigned.

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/1-4m-der...

::

But look how old this request is-

The PHSO was driven by the innate arrogance that lets its employees ghost ( ignore) the public, thinking that a polite response was unnecessary.

So don't say you weren't warned that the team around you were not treating public letters with respect Dame Julie Mellor.

It was bound to happen sooner or later PHSO ..... And it did.

:::

NB And what eventually happened to my wish to complain about the way my complaint was misread and then ignored?

....External investigator deemed that My formal complaint was right, apology from Dame Julie Mellor and £500.

If only it had been screened and acted upon sooner.

A.E. left an annotation ()

None of them care anyway. DJM will be leaving through a revolving door with a handsome handshake and a grin. The new PSO is looking to be just as useless. Until it's set up the right way it will continue to fail and fraudulently misspend public money.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO has just announced its commitment to be open and transparent to the public, onTwitter.

So I've asked it to reply - openly and committedly- vh a Twitter as to shy it failed to understand what my complaint was .

If it replies, then maybe.

If it doesn't, I'm sure people can draw their own conclusions as to exactiy how 'open And committed to public response' it really is.

Steven King left an annotation ()

A further thought, I am finding the chairs and CEOs of NHS organisations now pass communications sent to them down to PALS and Complaints.
It has been pointed out to me that whilst Chairs and CEOs have extensive duties and responsibilities to those contacting them , PALS and Complaints only have lesser duties and responsibilities , so the REALLY hot potatoes get passed down the line , and you do not get the completeness of response from those further down the ladder - and the Chair and CEO are distanced from the problems !

A.E. left an annotation ()

PALS are useless. They are akin to the PHSO "Customer Care Team". They collude with the offending department and close down complaints that have not had adequate replies, let-alone investigations.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Note the date of this.

It took around a year of writing to senior officers before the witheld data on the case decision part of my complaint was'found'.

By asking for my Subject Access Request.- Every complaint should do so if their case isn't upheld.

Info on how to ask the PHSO for your SAR :

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/person...

In it, it showed that the head of review officer had entirely misread the case She thought I was complaining about the Welsh NHS -which the English Ombudsman doesn't investigate- and you think she would have known....and she made her decision on that basis ( goodness knows how).

After my request to out my case forward to someone in the executive office - to someone who could actually bother to read my case- he PHSO FOIA team vexed my request. IMO - Spitefully and, as it turned out, wrongly.

::

The external investigator had some very critical things to say about the PHSO -I was awarded £500 the handling of it was so poor.

And the court unvexed my request..and made a critical judgement of the PHSO FOIA team.

I'd say to anyone who knows their case has been mishandled to try and get it to an external investigator. Because the PHSO just WON' T admit it's own mistakes. And it's only when it's threatened with a judicial review that the case seems to get to the level ( above the head of review) where it's read and understood.

:::

As for the court upholding my FOIA case, and the appalling way in which the PHSO treated me throughout trying to get the case to someone intelligent enough to comprehend it as well as trying to fix the court case by telling the ICO it wasn't in its 'remit' to investigate my evidence and withholding evidence - which had to be winkled out of the PHSO by the ICO lawyer, the PHSO will not as it it did anything wrong......despite being criticised in court by the Tribunal whose judges had read the evidence.

So that the Mick Martin tribunal judgement and mine, which the PHSO decided to ignore ( before the MM one was outed in the media) leading to Dame Julie Mellor!s resignation

:::
As stated, the PHSO will just NOT admit it's employees mistakes and throws everything it can at a complainant to stop them if they dare to point out that the officer convened has simply got it wrong. Much like the NHS.

:::

Complainants -know it isn't always you.

IMO It's likely to be the arrogant and contemptuous PHSO which has become a debased organisation for this reason.

:::

Your best strategy is to always take the complaint outside the PHSO - to an external investigator.

Or court.

A.E. left an annotation ()

"Because the PHSO just WON' T admit it's own mistakes."

Are you sure it was a mistake..? It seems to me, that aside from the staff lacking anywhere near sufficient enough knowledge to analyse cases and the meaning of the evidence therein, their decisions are always very deliberate and backed to the hilt by colleagues, no matter how wrong.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Yes.

An arrogant mistake that the head of review made.once I had drawn it to the complaint teams attention, she should have reviewed her own decision. All I got was a continuation of her 'get lost' letters.

:::

But the witholding of her written decision by the FOIA team was extremely questionable.

If I hadn't asked why the actual decision data was...rather than just receiving her series of 'get lost letters' again - in my SAR - I wouldn't have had any basis to progress to a judicial review. Which I think was why I got an extenal investigator.

But I think there was enough of a botch up. without this, to convince the external investigator that her decision was unsound -which he stated. I think even he was appauulled that the PHSO was stating I had 'never brought up a public interest evaluation' in my complaint ..where it was clearly stated on Page 2... Next to my MP's letter.

---

I'm not a supporter of conspiracy theory - in the the PHSO is just there to defend the NHS etc.

I'm not arguing that governments would if they could ...but from what I know of groups of people working together, there is always one who lets the cat out of the bag. And it comes apart eventually.

:::

What we find unpalatable is that we don't like our complaints being judged by amateurs ( basically bright call centre operatives) in a continental inquisitorial system.

The inquisitorial is where the ombudsman employs lawyers etc to ask the snRt questions determine cases ( still NOT allowing complainants to see the other parties' case), following the court inquisitorial continental system of justice, where they are more likely to make sound judgements as to which questions to ask than amateurs.

From my experience, it just looks like the smart questions are not asked if the organisations concerned ..and when they are the case handlers say..'oh ok,then' rather than probing more like a lawyer would.

In their defence, now, with the incessant drive to hit targets there is probably no longer the time
:::

This explains why the secretive inquisitorial UK Ombudsman is so unsatisfactory to UK residents:

http://www.ashfords.co.uk/differences-be...

So, in the UK we adopted the inquisitorial system - without thinking it would not sit well with complainants who are used to the British adversarial system, where both sides get all the evidence and can argue it out in court.

That's why so many complainants are distressed at the 'case closed -get lost letters' - where there is no logical decision presented .....and the other parties have more power than complaints to present their cases - seemingly without much evaluation or objection.

:::

That's the point where, if you try and probe further- as I did, you are 'ghosted' and written off as 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' ... and even vexed when you dare to ask who might give you a fair hearing by the FOIA team.

::
The PHSO may have the power NOT to give a fair explanation to complainants within this system, so can tell them to 'get lost' or ignore them evermore.

But it's decisions are based on sand, because of using amateurs to make them - as can be seen from my case.
Once I'd got it to a legal - who understood it, it was plain sailing - Apology from Dame Julie Mellor made and a new investigation in e he stepped in.

---

Future?

Post Brexit should be possible to argue that the ombudsman system should fit with the British system - and not be run as a pale shadow of the Continental ones.

Which will make it possible for complainants to challenge ( for example- NHS ) hidden responses to their complaint.

And not have their cases decided in secret by unqualified case handlers and arrogant reviewers who can't be bothered to read - and therefore understand - the cases ....because they know they are protected to the hilt by both other PHSO employees and the present secretive system.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Dont believe I left this annotation: . D.Speers left an annotation ( 6 March 2014)

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Dee- You are right -you didn't post it.

I did.

But it was when WDTK had a technical problems .....and I was mysteriously posting as you...and you me.

A.E. left an annotation ()

"I'm not a supporter of conspiracy theory - in the the PHSO is just there to defend the NHS etc. "

There are plenty who have evidence of outright collusion between PHSO and health trusts.

To err is human, but to cover it up is deceit and very deliberate, nothing to do with incompetence.

How PHSO accepts blatant lies by trusts is not incompetence either, it can only be deliberate. How can so many staff at PHSO be that incompetent? There is clearly a culture put in place.

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