Information regarding PHSO clinical advisors

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

You have recently responded to my request regarding a list of mental health advisors:

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

From that list, I have questions regarding: "Clinical Advisor Number 2 MBChB FRCPsych Msoc Sci (Dist) FRSH FRSPH Consultant Psychiatrist"; "Clinical Advisor Number 5 MB CHB (Hons) M.MED. SCI MRC Psych Consultant Psychiatrist in Adult General Psychiatry"; and "Clinical Advisor Number 9 MB, B.Ch, MRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist". Please provide the following information about each of these three Psychiatry Advisors:

1. Confirm their name and GMC numbers.
2. The year they commenced their roles as clinical advisors with the PHSO.
3. The total number of cases they have advised on since commencing their role with the PHSO (if possible, please provide a year-by-year breakdown of the number of cases).
4. The year they commenced work as a Consultant in their respective fields.

Yours faithfully,

cathy dunne

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Dunne

 

Thank you for your email requesting information held by the Parliamentary
and Health Service Ombudsman. Your request is as follows:

 

You have recently responded to my request regarding a list of mental
health advisors:

 

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

 

From that list, I have questions regarding: "Clinical Advisor Number 2
MBChB  FRCPsych Msoc Sci (Dist) FRSH  FRSPH  Consultant Psychiatrist";
"Clinical Advisor Number 5 MB CHB (Hons)  M.MED. SCI MRC Psych Consultant
Psychiatrist in Adult General Psychiatry"; and "Clinical Advisor Number 9
MB, B.Ch, MRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist".  Please provide the following
information about each of these three Psychiatry Advisors:

 

1.  Confirm their name and GMC numbers.

2.  The year they commenced their roles as clinical advisors with the
PHSO.

3.  The total number of cases they have advised on since commencing their
role with the PHSO (if possible, please provide a year-by-year breakdown
of the number of cases).

4.  The year they commenced work as a Consultant in their respective
fields.

 

Your request will be responded to in line with the Freedom of Information
Act 2000. A response will be sent to you on or before 6^th June 2018 in
line with the statutory timeframes set out in the Act.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

 

show quoted sections

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Dunne

Thank you for your email requesting information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Your request will be responded to in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A response will be sent to you on or before 6th June 2018 in line with the statutory timeframes set out in the Act.

Yours sincerely

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

show quoted sections

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Dunne

 

RE: Your information request: R0000005

 

I write in response to your email of 8^th May 2018 in regards to your
request for information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). Your request has been handled under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

You have requested the following:

 

You have recently responded to my request regarding a list of mental
health advisors:

 

[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

 

From that list, I have questions regarding: "Clinical Advisor Number 2
MBChB  FRCPsych Msoc Sci (Dist) FRSH  FRSPH  Consultant Psychiatrist";
"Clinical Advisor Number 5 MB CHB (Hons)  M.MED. SCI MRC Psych Consultant
Psychiatrist in Adult General Psychiatry"; and "Clinical Advisor Number 9
MB, B.Ch, MRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist".  Please provide the following
information about each of these three Psychiatry Advisors:

 

1.  Confirm their name and GMC numbers.

2.  The year they commenced their roles as clinical advisors with the
PHSO.

3.  The total number of cases they have advised on since commencing their
role with the PHSO (if possible, please provide a year-by-year breakdown
of the number of cases).

4.  The year they commenced work as a Consultant in their respective
fields.

 

Response

 

 1. The name of a clinical adviser and their GMC numbers is ‘information
obtained’ by the Ombudsman in the course an investigation.
Additionally, the name of each clinical advisor and their personal GMC
numbers constitutes personal data within the meaning of the Data
Protection Act (DPA) 1998 and in particular the personal data of a
third party. Disclosure of such information would breach principle 1
of the DPA where personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully.
Furthermore, the conditions as set out in Schedule 2 of the DPA are
not met. We do not consider it would be fair to disclose this
information and nor would the clinical advisors have a reasonable
expectation that such personal information would be disclosed. The
names of the clinical advisors and their GMC numbers have therefore
been withheld under Section 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) 2000 by virtue of Section 15(1) of the Health Service
Commissioners Act 1993 and Section 40(2) of the FOIA by virtue of
Section 40(3)(a)(i).

 

 2. This information is only held for clinical advisor number 5. This
advisor started working with PHSO in 2011. Whilst we do not hold
specific start dates for the remaining 2 clinical advisors the tables
provided below for Question 3 provide an indication of the year they
started to advise on complaint cases.

 

 3. Please see the tables below providing this information:

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| External Clinical Advisor No 2 – |
| |
| Consultant Psychiatrist |
| |
| MBChB FRCPsych Msoc Sci (Dist) FRSH FRSPH |
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 2010 | 2 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2011 | 7 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2012 | 11 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2013 | 7 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2014 | 9 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2015 | 10 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2016 | 7 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| 2017 | 2 |
|--------------------------------------+---------------------------------|
| Total | 55 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| External Clinical Advisor No 5 – |
| |
| Consultant Psychiatrist in Adult General Psychiatry |
| |
| MB CHB (Hons) M.MED. SCI |
| |
| MRC Psych |
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 2011 | 12 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2012 | 186 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2013 | 178 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2014 | 105 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2015 | 112 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2016 | 107 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2017 | 76 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2018 | 31 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| Total | 807 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| External Clinical Advisor No 9 – |
| |
| Consultant Psychiatrist |
| |
| MB, B.Ch, MRCPsych |
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 2014 | 79 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2015 | 93 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2016 | 28 |
|-------------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| Total | 200 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

 4. We do not hold this information. This level of information would be
held by the GMC.

 

I hope that this information is useful. If you believe we have made an
error in the way I have processed your information request, it is open to
you to request an internal review.  You can do this by writing to us by
post or by email to [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need
to specify what the nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter
further. Beyond that, it is open to you to complain to the Information
Commissioner’s Office ([3]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [4]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you for your response.

I would like to clarify question 1 as I do not think I was clear in what I was asking. I was requesting CONFIRMATION of the Psychiatry Advisors' name and GMC numbers. I apologize but I had omitted what I believe to be their names and GMC numbers in my initial request, which are below:

Clinical Advisor 2: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

Clinical Advisor 5: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

Clinical Advisor 9: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

Please confirm that their names and GMC numbers are correctly corresponding to the External Clinical Advisors 2, 5, and 9 that you have provided.

Yours sincerely,

cathy dunne

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Cathy Dunne

 

Thank you for your email dated 28 May 2018 requesting information held by
the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

 

Your request will be responded to in line with the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

 

A response will be sent to you on or before 26th June 2018 in line with
the statutory timeframes set out in the Act.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

 

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References

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Cathy Dunne

 

RE: Your information request: R0000034

 

I write in response to your email of 28 May 2018 in regards to your
request for information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). Your request has been handled under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

In accordance with Section 40(5)(b)(i) we neither confirm nor deny that
this information is held as to do so would contravene Section 40(2) by
virtue of Section 40(3)(a)(i).

 

Such information constitutes personal data within the meaning of the Data
Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and in particular the personal data of a third
party. The confirmation or denial that this information is held would
breach principle (a) of Article 5(1) of GDPR where personal data must be
processed fairly and lawfully. Furthermore, the conditions as set out in
Article 6 1(f) of the GDPR are not met.

 

The name of a clinical adviser and their GMC numbers is ‘information
obtained’ by the Ombudsman in the course of an investigation. Section
44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 by virtue of
Section 15(1) of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 has also been
applied to your request.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review.  You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need to specify what the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [3]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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References

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Dear InformationRights,

Thank you for your response.

I make 2 points that I would like some clarification on:

1. I am not looking for you to disclose personal data of a third party. I have obtained the personal data from the GMC website, so this is public information. I am fairly certain that the clinical advisor's names do correspond with the qualifications of the respective advisors, but I am looking for confirmation of the same. So to repeat my request, below is the personal data I am disclosing, and would like you to confirm as corresponding to the clinical advisors you provided:

Clinical Advisor 2: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

Clinical Advisor 5: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

Clinical Advisor 9: Dr [Personal data removed] [Personal data removed], GMC [Personal data removed]

2. I am slightly confused as to why you had redacted the names and GMC numbers of these three doctors. The reason for my confusion is that you have redacted public data that is freely available on the GMC website (which is the source of my information). Please clarify why this data (that is available to the public on the GMC website) was redacted?

Yours sincerely,

cathy dunne

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this majority F-t T decision (the minority's opinion is included). The appelant sought information on the training undertaken by two named social workers and the qualifications they received.

47. The majority has concluded that the requested information should be disclosed. The judgement has not been an easy one.

50 There is an error of approach at the heart of the Commissioner’s decision. In paragraph 22, she said that her default position with section 40(2) was to favour the privacy of the data subject and, as a result, there had to be a more compelling interest in disclosure which would make it fair."

63. FOIA consigns to history the paternalistic approach which formerly characterised the relationship between citizen and government. Mr
Halpin wants to reach his own judgement about the appropriateness of the training the two employees have had."

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/GRC...

cathy dunne left an annotation ()

That F-t T decision was an interesting read. It shows what can be achieved if one is persistent.

The PHSO's secrecy about their advisors is hard to understand, especially when many of their advisors openly state their connections with the PHSO. We should produce a database of all known advisors, and as long as there is nothing dafamatory about them it should not be a problem.

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

We at WhatDoTheyKnow have removed material identifying medical professionals who the requester believes are clinical advisers to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

Our primary reasoning for the redaction was that we don't know if these individuals have, or have had, the roles stated and so publication would be unfair; particularly as we've told that those working as the obudsman's clinical advisors might be subjected to harassment.

We note the initial request and response on this thread are unaffected by our redaction.

The PHSO has written to us about how they deal with the names of their clinical advisors, they wrote:

"As an ombudsman that handles complaints against health organisations we might ask for advice about complaints from someone with specialist knowledge (for example, a psychologist, midwife or obstetrician). PHSO engages an extensive range of clinical advisors who are all registered practising NHS health professionals on a draw down basis to provide independent knowledge. There are about 900 independent clinical advisors. Our current policy is that the clinical advisors will remain anonymous. This is to safeguard their objectivity and privacy so that they are not exposed to public pressure or harassment. They don’t have to work with us. That they do is of great benefit providing specialist advice that might otherwise be unavailable to PHSO. If we didn’t have willing medical professionals working with us, then the quality of our investigations could be compromised. The ICO has confirmed our approach to anonymity is wholly justified."

They pointed to an article on their website about how they use clinical advice:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/news-and-bl...

We noted a contact released via FOI appears to an extent to be at odds with this, asking prospective PHSO clinical advisors to confirm: "your
awareness that it is likely that your advice and your identity may be disclosed in part or full to the complainant and organisations/staff being investigated concerned."

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

The PHSO made a further statement to us:

"The Ombudsman must investigate “in private” under each Act, and he is further restricted in sharing information gathered as part of his health investigation under section 15 Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 unless in specified circumstances. This restriction also prevents disclosure of both clinical advisor names or advice under section 44(1)(a) FOIA (exempt from disclosure as prohibited by any enactment). Information about clinical advisors (such as their professional background) and their advice may be disclosed to someone whose complaint we are handling. It does not grant that complainant the right to make that information public.

To clarify, the contract that you are referring to states " your advice and your identity may be disclosed in part or full to the complainant and organisations/staff being investigated concerned."

This means that the advice and identity of clinical advisors may be shared with the person who makes the complaint and the organisation that the complaint is about. The complainant may receive the names and advice of clinical advisors in the draft report, which would later be anonymised in the final report. We provide information on this in our privacy policy https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co... :

'Our draft report is confidential. It will contain all the information from you and others that we have contacted. You and the organisation may share the draft report with people who can help you comment on its accuracy and content (for example, a family member or professional adviser), but by law you and the organisation complained about must not make the contents public.'

This means that clinical advisors would not expect their information to be made public. In any particular case where we consider that it would be appropriate to disclose their identity to the complainant, we ensure we have consent from the clinical advisor. The organisation under investigation is also expected to keep the information confidential and if they disclosed personal details without our authorisation we would consider that a breach of the clinical advisor’s confidence and take appropriate action.

When it comes to the final report, we will not usually include publish the names of clinical advisors and where we lay a report of a case in Parliament, we have never to my knowledge, named or been asked to name a clinical advisor. unless at PHSO's discretion and under exceptional circumstances. We would never name a clinical advisor without first informing them and only if we were clear that the public interest in doing so outweighed their privacy rights. "

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com Volunteer

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Dunne,

We acknowledge your request for an internal review of the handling of your request and will provide you with a response as soon as possible.

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

show quoted sections

cathy dunne left an annotation ()

2 points:
1. I am confused because, as far as I am aware, I have NOT requested an internal review. Why have the PHSO made work for themselves?
2. The PHSO appear to have misdirected Mr. Taylor (WhatDoTheyKnow) by providing questionable information that has led to the redaction of publicly available data. Why has publicly available data been removed from a freedom of information website?

Dear InformationRights,

I would like further clarification regarding the information the PHSO appears to have provided to Richard Taylor (WhatDoTheyKnow) which led to redaction of publicly available information. As a result of the information the PHSO provided, Mr. Taylor stated that the "primary reasoning for the redaction was that we don't know if these individuals have, or have had, the roles stated and so publication would be unfair".

I am concerned that the information the PHSO has provided to WhatDoTheyKnow is not accurate, as it is inconsistent with evidence suggesting that the PHSO's clinical advisors' identity is widely publicized. For example:

- Dr. ARUN GADHOK (GMC 4627632) has identified himself as a GP adviser on PHSO's own YouTube channel titled "Meet one of our GP clinical advisers":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIuIm0YV...

- There are numerous examples of PHSO's clinical advisors making public their current and/or past advisor roles with the PHSO. This is found on websites linked to the NHS, private clinics, universities, and internet published CVs. The below links are freely available on internet and easy to find:
https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/person/...
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/...
http://gettingitrightfirsttime.co.uk/sur...
https://www.westbournecentre.com/team/sa...
http://www.enfieldmencap.org.uk/wp-conte...
https://www.cshsurrey.co.uk/news-room/ne...
https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/po...
https://www.escardio.org/static_file/Esc...
http://gettingitrightfirsttime.co.uk/sur...
http://www.rajeshmunglani.com/Medico-leg...
https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/consultants...

- Specific to my enquiry about PHSO advisors in this request, I obtained information regarding their PHSO roles as these doctors are known to be open about their advisor role with the PHSO. These advisors declare their connection with the PHSO on their CVs, in conversations with colleagues, and even on publicly available websites. For instance, Dr. ANTHONY ELLIOTT, who I was asking the PHSO whether he corresponds to External Clinical Advisor No 2, has publicized his PHSO role on the opening slide of his highly regarded powerpoint presentation "The Consultant Role in Learning from Complaints - Complacency is the Enemy of Safety" which is available via the healthcareconferencesuk.co.uk website. He has also publicized his PHSO role on numerous other publicly available sites, including on page 2 of the Shropshire Community Health NHS document where he declares himself as "National Advisor to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman on Old Age Psychiatry":

https://www.shropscommunityhealth.nhs.uk...

I know that all of the PHSO clinical advisors are competent and reputable in their fields, which is the reason the PHSO seeks their expert opinion during investigations. I acknowledge that it is the high quality of clinical advice provided by them that have contributed to the excellent service provided by the PHSO. Therefore, I respectfully request that the PHSO:

1. Clarify their position on making clinical advisors' identities anonymous, given the context I have provided above that the PHSO advisors do publicly disclose their role as clinical advisors anyway. I would appreciate it if the PHSO could provide that clarification to Mr. Taylor so he can use any new information to make an informed decision on the redacted publicly available data in this request.

2. Please answer my original request as I am only asking for confirmation that the named advisors, who have already made their PHSO advisor roles public, match the numbered advisors that the PHSO have disclosed. Given that the GMC disclose all doctors names and GMC numbers, and the PHSO advisors appear to publicly disclose their roles with the PHSO, I am confused as to why my request has been denied.

Yours sincerely,

cathy dunne

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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3 Attachments

Dear Ms Dunne,

 

Re: Internal Review of Information Request (R0000034)

 

I have considered your previous correspondence including your email of
17^th June 2018.

 

Internal Review Response

 

Timeliness of response:

 

The response to your request was within the 20 working days stipulated by
section 10(1) Freedom of Information Act.

 

Information Provided:

 

Our response was in line with a ICO decision (link below) that finds that
section 44 of the FOIA is engaged in relation to PHSO not naming clinical
advisors.

 

[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

 

Conclusion

 

For the reason set out above, I do not uphold your complaint and we
neither confirm nor deny that we hold the information requested in
accordance with Section 40(5)(b)(i) of the FOIA.

 

If you remain unhappy with our response, it is open to you to complain to
the Information Commissioner’s Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Andrew Martin

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [3]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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Dear InformationRights,

I write to obtain clarification regarding your recent communication of 18th July 2018 in which you have conducted an Internal Review of an Information Request. Your Internal Review appears to relate to a different Information Request, possibly made by a different requester regarding a different matter. I say this because:

1. I had NOT made any request for an Internal Review for my Information Request titled "Information regarding PHSO clinical advisors".

2. My Information Request was referenced as R0000005 in your response of 23rd May 2018, but the Internal Review appeared to correlate with a different Information Request referenced R0000034.

3. The contents of the Internal Review bears no resemblance to my Information Request titled "Information regarding PHSO clinical advisors" and does not make reference to the particulars of my Information Request.

4. The contents of the Internal Review, which makes reference to an ICO decision link Decision Notice, relates to the PHSO not naming clinical advisors in connection to an investigation of a specific complaint. This does not have anything in common with my Information Request because in my Information Request the names of the clinical advisors were known as publicly available in connection with the PHSO (specifically Dr. ANTHONY ELLIOTT, Dr [name removed], and Dr [name removed]). Moreover, my Information Request was about matching their names to qualifications. In addition, my Information Request was NOT in connection with any specific complaint or investigation.

Given the above, I am wondering if the PHSO have conducted an Internal Review of a different information Request and inadvertently posted it on my Information Request. This is likely to be the case, particularly as I did NOT make a request for an Internal Review.

Please clarify if this is the case. Please do not worry if you have made an error, as I appreciate that mistakes do occur. However, I am concerned that the requester of a different Information Request may be waiting for their response to their Internal Review, so you may wish to correct this error. In addition, please note that I am still waiting for clarification regarding my own Information Request as I am waiting for a response to my email of 30th June 2018.

Yours sincerely,

cathy dunne

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Dunne,

Thank you for your email of 21 July.

We can confirm our email of 18 July was in relation to your information request regarding clinical advisors.

If you are dissatisfied with the response it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioners Office.

Yours sincerely,

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

show quoted sections

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

This is interesting as there is no policy that has been disclosed to me of how sharing a draft document makes it public. Yet the complainant is still kept in the dark about investigations until the draft stage. At that point very few reports are altered whatever the circumstances, thus putting a complainant at a disadvantage by not allowing engagement during the investigation process. In the majority of cases only the complained about authority is engaged with by case workers at PHSO.

We are told this is changing but where is the evidence for this?

"The Ombudsman must investigate “in private” under each Act, and he is further restricted in sharing information gathered as part of his health investigation under section 15 Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 unless in specified circumstances".

Sec 15 Confidentiality of information.
(1)Information obtained by a Commissioner or his officers in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation shall not be disclosed except—
(a)for the purposes of the investigation and any report to be made in respect of it,
(b)for the purposes of any proceedings for—
(i)an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989 alleged to have been committed in respect of information obtained by virtue of this Act by a Commissioner or any of his officers, or
(ii)an offence of perjury alleged to have been committed in the course of the investigation,

“How is the complainant to know if full disclosure does not take place”.

(c)for the purposes of an inquiry with a view to the taking of such proceedings as are mentioned in paragraph (b), F1. . .
(d)for the purposes of any proceedings under section 13 (offences of obstruction and contempt) [F2or

“As above”

(e)[F3where the information is to the effect that any person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of patients]as permitted by subsection (1B).]
“Health and safety of complainant maybe at risk.”
[F4[F5(1A)Subsection (1B) applies where, in the course of an investigation, a Commissioner or any of his officers obtains information which—
(a)does not fall to be disclosed for the purposes of the investigation or any report to be made in respect of it, and
(b)is to the effect that a person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of patients.]

“As above”

“Where evidence is uncover of wrong doing the PHSO do not take this on board unless the complainant has made a complaint about it. If whatever has been found was unknown to the complainant, so they were not able to make the complaint, my experience is, that’s too bad. So where there is wrong doing not complained about the PHSO will not usually have an issues with it, even asking the adviser to remove some elements of their report..!

In my case the Nurse advisor gave wrong information and when I was eventually giving the report, I supplied the correct information. Upon being challenged by me, the nurse 'change' her advice! My case went from not up held to up held.
This was taken to the NMC who did not up hold my complaint that the nurse tried to cover her colleagues back by giving false information to PHSO.
A second advisors was of the wrong discipline to give the advice he did. I wrote to him and asked how he could give this advise as he was not qualified to do that. He ignored my letter. My complaint was not up held.

The GMC would not accept my complaint saying, 'see his employer about this, the PHSO'. The case worker could not work out the difference between disciplines and so the advice stood. My complaint not up held.

If the advisor gives correct advice, they have nothing to fear. There can be no abuse, unlike the abused, shut out, complainant.

Why the secrecy?

It's because advisers sometimes give the advice required to guard their colleagues backs. The only way to assess accuracy is for advisers to take responsibility in an open and transparent way. They are paid enough.....

cathy dunne left an annotation ()

Good points, Brenda.

It is interesting how many of us have encountered flawed advice from clinical advisors. These "experts" should be held accountable if their advice is wrong.

It is also disappointing to hear of cases where the GMC have refused to investigate, and instead recommending that we should refer our complaints to the employer, the PHSO. However, I would question whether the PHSO is their employer. According to an FOI a few years ago, the terms and conditions of the clinical advisor's contract is pretty clear regarding this:

"1.1. For the avoidance of doubt, this engagement does not constitute employment and carries with it no employment right's".

Does this mean that the PHSO is not the clinical advisors' employer, but are contracting out to obtain clinical advice? If we are directed by the GMC to refer back to their employer, surely this would mean that the GMC are giving us permission to redirect any complaints to the clinical advisors' NHS Trust. However, I do not think their NHS Trust would be interested in a complaint about their PHSO work. This means we have to remit any complaints back to the GMC. Don't forget that the time limitation for GMC complaints is 5 years, so as long as you make the GMC complaint within 5 years of the incident the GMC would have to consider the complaint.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

That's a thought!

Thank you.

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you for your response of 24 July.

Now that the PHSO appears to have accepted what information ought to be retained (and redacted) in my Information Request, please can you clarify, with respect to your email of 18 July, why you have conducted an Internal Review when I had NOT requested one? Please also provide me with a copy of your policy regarding FOI requests including your policy on conducting Internal Reviews.

Yours sincerely,

cathy dunne

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

______________________________________________________________________
This email has been scanned by the Symantec Email Security.cloud service.
For more information please visit http://www.symanteccloud.com
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D. Moore left an annotation ()

Following on from Brenda Prentice's point about the secrecy of the Ombudsman, here is a disturbing story of the NI Ombudsman threatening a man with contempt if he shared the findings of one of her own reports:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ire...

BBC stories critical of an Ombudsman are a rarity.

Here is the related radio programme:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06gxcws

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am still waiting for a response to my email for clarification regarding my Information Request.

You have advised me complain to the Information Commissioners Office. However, please note the following:
1. In order to make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office, I need to confirm with them that I have firstly complained to the public body.
2. As I am unable to confirm that I made a complaint to you for an Internal Review, the Information Commissioners Office has informed me to: "Contact the public body and ask them to undertake an internal review about your request. Many problems can be resolved quickly through direct contact."

I realize it is embarrassing that you have had to accept that the names of any of your clinical advisors can be disclosed if there is evidence of publicly available information of their role as PHSO clinical advisors. I also acknowledge that you tried to persuade the WhatDoTheyKnow staff that your clinical advisors' names remain private by saying 'This means that clinical advisors would not expect their information to be made public', when it is clear that your clinical advisors are making the public aware of their roles. However, it is unfortunate that you appear to have now retaliated against me by ignoring my request for further clarification, and resorted to conducting an apparent Internal Review in order to "shut down" this Information Request.

Please now provide me with a response.

Yours faithfully,

cathy dunne

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
We may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your request.
For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as possible.

______________________________________________________________________
This email has been scanned by the Symantec Email Security.cloud service.
For more information please visit http://www.symanteccloud.com
______________________________________________________________________

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