Missing evidence and PHSO triage.

phsothefacts Pressure Group made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman did not have the information requested.

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

On the 12.1.16 Dame Julie Mellor stated to PACAC the following;

To give you a concrete example, I was talking to a colleague yesterday who was saying that, wherever there is inconsistency in the evidence that is not congruent between what the complainant says and what the body says, we will look to triage that evidence. Recently, our director of investigations had a case where they felt the evidence was not congruent, so they went and looked in the cupboards of the trust, and their hunch was right and they found records that had not been supplied. We will always look to triage where there is that discrepancy between the parties. That could be interviewing; it could be going and visiting; it could be saying, “We know there are more records. We need those records”; or it could be threatening to use our powers to gather evidence.

Q1. Did Dame Julie Mellor not know about the triage process until she talked to a colleague the day before the PACAC meeting?

Q2. What does 'triage' mean in this context?

Q3. How did the director of investigations know which cupboard to look in for the missing evidence?

Q4 Does PHSO have the powers to search premises without permission?

Q5. How did the director of investigation avoid breaches in data protection when other data must also have been stored in the cupboard?

Q6. Is the 'hunch' method of investigation included in policy?

Q7. How much has been spent on 'coaching' and 'media training' for Dame Julie Mellor?

Q8. Do you think this was a sensible thing to say on record given that there are strict laws for data protection?

Yours faithfully,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Reynolds

 

Your information request (FDN-246037)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 24 January 2016, in which you
asked a number of questions relating to a statement made by Dame Julie
Mellor at the PACAC hearing in January 2016.  I will respond to each of
your questions in turn.

 

 1. Did Dame Julie Mellor not know about the triage process until she
talked to a colleague the day before the PACAC meeting?

As you may be aware, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
confers a right to recorded information, and does not allow access to
opinions or information about what a person might know unless that
information is already recorded.  I can confirm do not hold any
recorded information which would answer this question.

 2. What does 'triage' mean in this context?

Again, we hold no recorded information which would answer this
question.  However, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word
‘triage’ as meaning ‘[t]he action of assorting according to quality’. 
Dame Julie seems to be referring to situations where there is
conflicting evidence in an investigation and more evidence needs to be
gathered so that the quality of the evidence to hand can be accurately
assessed.

 3. How did the director of investigations know which cupboard to look in
for the missing evidence?

We hold no recorded information which would answer this question.

 4. Does PHSO have the powers to search premises without permission?

The Ombudsman has wide powers to obtain information, which are equal
to that of a High Court judge. These powers are set out in the two
sets of legislation from which she derives her powers; the Health
Service Commissioners Act 1993 (HSCA) and the Parliamentary
Commissioner Act 1967 (PCA). This legislation is available in the
public domain at: [1]www.legislation.gov.uk

 

Section 12(1A) HSCA states that the Ombudsman ‘may require any person who
in [her] opinion is able to supply information or produce documents
relevant to the investigation to supply any such information or produce
any such document’. Section 12(2) states that ‘[f]or the purposes of any
investigation the [Ombudsman] shall have the same powers as the Court in
respect of […] the production of documents’.  Similar provisions are set
out at section 8 PCA.  The Ombudsman does not need permission or consent
to obtain information relevant to an investigation.

 

 5. How did the director of investigation avoid breaches in data
protection when other data must also have been stored in the cupboard?

 

Again, we hold no recorded information which would answer this question.
However, you might find it helpful to know that the fifth condition of
Schedule 2 in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) allows the processing of
personal data where it is necessary for ‘the exercise of any functions
conferred on any person on or under any enactment’. Condition 7 of
Schedule 2 DPA includes a similar provision for the processing of
sensitive personal data.  However, we would not retrieve, consult or use
third party personal data if it was not relevant to an investigation.

 

 6. Is the 'hunch' method of investigation included in policy?

 

Section 21 FOIA allows public authorities to redirect requestors where the
information they have asked for is already in the public domain.  PHSO’s
casework policies are available on our website at the following link:
[2]www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/being-open-and-transparent/our-publication-scheme/our-policies-and-procedures

 

 7. How much has been spent on 'coaching' and 'media training' for Dame
Julie Mellor?

Given the wider context of your request, I have interpreted this part of
your request as one for the cost of all media training and coaching for
Dame Julie Mellor, rather than for all training and coaching.

 

We do not have information on individual spending on media training for
Dame Julie Mellor as she received training on two occasions as part of a
group.

In February 2014, the new senior Executive Team had some media training
which Dame Julie Mellor was part of.  The training was provided for six
delegates.  Further media training took place in July 2014 for both Dame
Julie Mellor and Mick Martin.

 

The total cost of this training for all delegates was £7677.60 (including
VAT).

 8. Do you think this was a sensible thing to say on record given that
there are strict laws for data protection?

Again, there is no recorded information which would help us to answer
this question.  However, I hope my response has provided you with
assurance that PHSO takes its duties under the DPA seriously and
carries out its investigations in a legally compliant way.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [4][email address]

 

From: phsothefacts Pressure Group
[mailto:[FOI #312335 email]]
Sent: 24 January 2016 18:54
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Missing evidence and PHSO
triage.

 

     Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
    
     On the 12.1.16 Dame Julie Mellor stated to PACAC the following;
    
     To give you a concrete example, I was talking to a colleague
     yesterday who was saying that, wherever there is inconsistency in
     the evidence that is not congruent between what the complainant
     says and what the body says, we will look to triage that evidence.
     Recently, our director of investigations had a case where they felt
     the evidence was not congruent, so they went and looked in the
     cupboards of the trust, and their hunch was right and they found
     records that had not been supplied. We will always look to triage
     where there is that discrepancy between the parties. That could be
     interviewing; it could be going and visiting; it could be saying,
     We know there are more records. We need those records; or it
     could be threatening to use our powers to gather evidence.
    
     Q1. Did Dame Julie Mellor not know about the triage process until
     she talked to a colleague the day before the PACAC meeting?
    
     Q2. What does 'triage' mean in this context?
    
     Q3. How did the director of investigations know which cupboard to
     look in for the missing evidence?
    
     Q4 Does PHSO have the powers to search premises without permission?
    
     Q5. How did the director of investigation avoid breaches in data
     protection when other data must also have been stored in the
     cupboard?
    
     Q6. Is the 'hunch' method of investigation included in policy?
    
     Q7. How much has been spent on 'coaching' and 'media training' for
     Dame Julie Mellor?
    
     Q8. Do you think this was a sensible thing to say on record given
     that there are strict laws for data protection?
    
     Yours faithfully,
    
     Della Reynolds
    
     phsothefacts Pressure Group
    
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phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for confirming that by and large you have no information to support the statement made by Dame Julie Mellor to PACAC that the Director of Investigations at PHSO searches through cupboards for withheld evidence.

I found this section to be of interest.

Section 12(1A) HSCA states that the Ombudsman ‘may require any person who
in [her] opinion is able to supply information or produce documents
relevant to the investigation to supply any such information or produce
any such document’. Section 12(2) states that ‘[f]or the purposes of any
investigation the [Ombudsman] shall have the same powers as the Court in
respect of […] the production of documents’. Similar provisions are set
out at section 8 PCA. The Ombudsman does not need permission or consent
to obtain information relevant to an investigation.

This law talks of requiring organisations to 'produce' evidence it does not say that the Ombudsman has the right to enter premises and search without permission. Even the court need a search warrant.

Yours sincerely,

Della Reynolds.

phsothefacts Pressure Group

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

A.E. left an annotation ()

Yes, the devil is in the detail as always isn't it Della.

"This law talks of requiring organisations to 'produce' evidence it does not say that the Ombudsman has the right to enter premises and search without permission. Even the court need a search warrant."

So long as PHSO has put on record that it asked the body for all the relevant evidence, it can hold it's hands up and say it did what it was legally required to do.

Never mind that if the body only gives what it chooses to, PHSO is not obliged to challenge them on this.

Never mind that (yet again) it is down to the complainant to be a forensic investigator to point out the mismatches, facts and evidence which shows the body is lying and that PHSO employees simply reply with their own fitted for purpose opinion on things or that nothing the complainant has said changes their decision either not to investigate or not to uphold the complaint following their sham investigation.

Like many of the so-called rules, legal teams have clearly analysed said rules from every angle to allow this body to do the bare minimum and still claim to have performed it's role.

As your questions so aptly show, their remit is wide open to abuse, hence the shocking way they are letting the public down and letting bodies get of Scot free.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Ombudsman has the powers to a high court judge, so it can 'write its own warrants'.

.....And once it actually seems to have used it's powers for the benefit of the complainant, as Dame Julie Mellor states.

Unfortunately, since there no longer seem to be any complainants who have managed to prise all the requested files from the NHS etc , it may prove too expensive for the PHSO to do cupboard raids for nearly every case.

A.E. left an annotation ()

And it will likely only raid the cupboards in some of cases it deems in the public interest (AKA likely to hit the media), such as where systemic issues in one particular place are found. Individual complainants will be left high and dry most likely.