Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

1. Please provide the name of each senior member of staff and their corresponding job title. Please also state the pay grade for each. Previously, senior pay grades were '0', '1' and '2'.

2. Please provide the job title of each unfilled senior position. Where interviews have been carried out for positions as yet unfilled, please state the date(s) of the interviews.

3. Please indicate all new senior staff employed since 10 September 2018.

4. If you have used recruitment agencies to recruit senior staff since 10 September 2018, please provide their names.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

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:
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear D Moore

 

PHSO reference R0000398

Your request for information

 

Thank you for your correspondence of 7^th December 2018 in which you
requested information from the PHSO.

 

PHSO response

 

1. Staff names and grades:

 

Please see the attached spreadsheet.

 

Please note that Rob Behrens is paid through Her Majesty’s Treasury rather
than PHSO. His name has on the list, but we do not hold his grade or
salary.

 

Please note that the names of Grade 2 staff has been withheld under
Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is because the
information is third party personal data, and disclosure would contravene
the first data protection principle. This states that disclosure of
personal data must be lawful, fair, and transparent.

 

PHSO does not consider that it would be fair to disclose this information.
We do not consider that staff in these roles would have an expectation
that their names would be released for the purposes of transparency and
accountability, and so it would not be fair to infringe on their privacy
rights. As this has been our position for some time, the relevant members
of staff would have a reasonable expectation that their names would not be
placed into the public domain in response to a freedom of information
request.

 

 

2. Unfilled senior positions and dates of interview:

 

Assistant Director for Casework (Grade 2). No interviews have been carried
out.

 

 

3. Please indicate all new senior staff employed since 10 September 2018.

 

Richard O’Connell – Director of Resources

Hazel Waddington – Assistant Director of Policy and Service Quality

Kathleen Eisenstein - Assistant Director of Insight and Public Affairs

Senior Lawyer

Solutions Architect

 

Please note that the names of Grade 2 staff have been withheld under
Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the reasons
stated in response to item 1 of your request.

 

 

4. Recruitment agencies since 10 September 2018:

 

Hays.

 

 

Right of appeal

 

If you have any queries about this response, please contact the
Information Rights Team. Please remember to quote the reference number
above in any future communications. If you are unhappy with the service
you have received in relation to your request or wish to request an
internal review, please respond to this email and explain why you are
dissatisfied.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision.
Generally, the Commissioner will not make a decision unless you have
exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the PHSO. The Information
Commissioner’s Office can be contacted at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[1]https://ico.org.uk/

 

Regards,

 

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [2][email address]

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

 

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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 'Names of senior staff'.

In my view the names of grade 2 staff should be disclosed. You torpedoed me with:

"Please note that the names of Grade 2 staff has been withheld under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is because the information is third party personal data, and disclosure would contravene the first data protection principle."

I dispute that disclosure would contravene the first data protection principle. Grade 2 staff are senior staff who are paid handsomely from the public purse. I contend that the public has a right to know how frequently PHSO is changing senior staff in its effort to provide a satisfactory service. Knowing the names of grade 2 staff would make it easier for members of the public to find out the full facts regarding PHSO staff turnover, which in 2017/18 was an eye-watering 43 per cent:

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

In an email to the WDTK team on the subject of staff anonymity you contended that the identity of clinical advisors should be kept hidden " to safeguard their objectivity and privacy so that they are not exposed to public pressure or harassment":

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

Such a risk does admittedly exist, but I consider your concerns overblown. Judges, for example, continually disappoint appellants with their decisions. If the names of judges can be disclosed so to can those clinical advisors and senior lawyers (and I see no reason why the 'Solutions Architect' should be granted anonymity, either).

Also, my request does not relate to any specific PHSO case. There may be arguments in favour of protecting the privacy of Grade 2 members of staff in respect of cases they have worked on, but such arguments can not be applied simply to the matter of their employment status.

I have two quick final points.

I note that since 10 September 2018 you have employed one senior barrister and that no senior barrister's post is unfilled. You advertised for two senior barristers, both with the closing date of 17 July 2018:

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

Can you please explain this apparent discrepancy?

Can you confirm that the post of 'Solutions Architect' in your response corresponds with that of “Solutions Enterprise Architect”? This post had a closing date of 20 July 2018 and a starting salary in the range of £56,130-£68,513:

“The successful candidate will be have a strong technical background and will be responsible for innovation, consolidation and integration of our IT environments covering any aspect of the IT architecture (Application, Data, Infrastructure, Networks, Integration and Security). You will work across multiple technologies and platforms and will recommend and lead the introduction of appropriate technologies to deliver improved services to our complainants and staff. As a senior member of the ICT team you’ll do this whilst developing and maintain strong relationships with key business stakeholders. ”

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

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

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:
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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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D. Moore left an annotation ()

Since 10 September 2018 PHSO has used only one recruitment agency (Hays).

During 2016/17 it used seventeen:

Catherine Johnstone Recruitment (CJR), Customer Management, Resourcing (CMR), Hays, Kennedy Pearce, Law Absolute, Michael Page, Morgan Hunt, Morgan Law, Oakleaf, Red Snapper, Tiger Recruitment, Baseline Recruit, CIPFA –Penna Plc, Search, Gatenby Sanderson, Verudus Keystream.

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

Despite using seventeen recruitment agencies, staff turnover hit a record high in 2017/18 of 43 per cent. Taxpayers didn't seem to benefit from PHSO's considerable use of recruitment agencies.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear D Moore,

 

Internal Review of Freedom of Information Request

 

I write in response to your email of 10 January in which you request an
Internal Review of our response to your request for information. I have
reconsidered your correspondence and our response to you.

 

In respect of the refusal to provide senior staff grade 2 names. For the
Solutions Architect and Senior Lawyer although the names are the personal
information of those concerned I can see no overriding reason for
non-disclosure. The s40(2) exemption is no longer relied upon and those
names are provided below.

 

I have also reviewed the refusal to provide Clinical Advisor names in our
response to you. The first condition of section 40(3)(a) of the Freedom of
Information Act states that personal data of 3^rd persons is exempt from
disclosure if disclosing it would contravene one of the data protection
principles. Our response to you determined that disclosure of Clinical
Advisor names would breach the first data protection principle (disclosure
of personal data must be lawful, fair and transparent).

 

A response to a freedom of information request is a response to the ‘world
at large’. My view is that Clinical Advisors would reasonably expect their
personal information not to be disclosed to the world at large and that it
would be unfair to release this information, which would breach the first
data protection principle. Clinical Advisors also work in the NHS, to
provide their names in response to a Freedom of Information request could
result in them being contacted in relation to PHSO matters at their place
of work and be at risk of intrusion or harassment. As such I maintain the
use of Section 40(2) in withholding these details.

 

In answer to the queries in your email of 10 January I can confirm that
the Solutions Architect corresponds to that of Solutions Enterprise
Architect. Since the date of your request a second Senior Lawyer has
commenced their employment. Their details are provided below along with
the names of the staff members that are no longer withheld.

 

Solutions Architect – Peter Hastings

Senior Legal Officer – Laura Foster

Senior Legal Officer – Catriona Granger

 

For the reasons given above I partly uphold your complaint.

 

If you remain unhappy with our response, it is open to you to complain to
the Information Commissioner’s Office ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Andrew Martin

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[3]fb  [4]twitter  [5]linkedin

 

 

 

 

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D. Moore left an annotation ()

ICO contacted.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Confirmation received from ICO that my complaint has been accepted as eligible for further investigation.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

I meant to write 'consideration' and not 'investigation'.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

The IC has not upheld my complaint:

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

I have appealed the decision.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

D.Moore

I've just read the ICO DN. As usual they have found in favour of the PHSO. No surprise there then.

Good luck with your appeal.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Thanks M Boyce. The tribunal service has informed that the Commissioner's response to my appeal is due by 13 August 2019.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

The tribunal service has contacted me to inform me that PHSO on 30 July 2019 requested a copy of my Grounds of Appeal in the folowing terms:

"Dear Sirs

I am informed that the above matter is an appeal of the ICO decision which relates to a PHSO disclosure.

It is not yet clear whether PHSO can helpfully add any information but it would be of assistance if we could please have sight of the Grounds of Appeal in order that I can take instructions as to whether it would be appropriate for PHSO to seek permission to join the proceedings.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused."

D. Moore left an annotation ()

I have received and replied to the Commissioner's Response.

The case will be considered on the papers only.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

D Moore,

You might be interested in this ICO decision concerning the Ministry of Justice and the release of Magistrates' full names:

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

'33. The Commissioner noted that, in Felixstowe, Watson L J said in judgment:

"... I would regard and I believe the general public likewise would regard a policy such as that maintained by the Felixstowe justices and their clerk to be inimical to the proper administration of justice and an unwarranted and an unlawful obstruction to the right to know who sits in judgment. There is, in my view, no such person known to the law as the anonymous JP.”'

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Thanks for that, J Roberts.

My annotation dated 17 August has been called into question. It seems that a hearing is now on the cards. Those interested in tribunal procedure may find the following interesting:

"1. As the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman(“PHSO”) appear to neither have responded to the appeal or consented to consideration without a hearing, the Tribunal will have to arrange for a hearing to take place.

2. ...

3. It is a requirement of the rules that a respondent responds to an appeal (see rule 23). The PHSO is given until 18 November 2019 to respond; if they fail to do so the Tribunal will consider whether to:

3.1 Remove the PHSO as a party to the appeal;
3.2 Waive the requirement in rule 23.

4. The PHSO should note that, if the requirement is waived they may find it difficult to, later on, say that it is fair and just for them to be permitted to raise additional issues and submissions."

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Knowing the names of senior staff is important. Without knowing their names it would not have come to light that this individual whose recruitment cost taxpayers £11,000 lasted less than 5 months in the job:

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

Senior positions usually require an extended period of notice. Started in September and handed in his notice in October?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

PHSO are seeking a new Assistant Director of Communications:

"Closing date: 11 November 2019 10:00am
Length of contract: 12-month Fixed Term Contract
Salary: £63,791 (London) or £60,180 (Manchester)
Location: Manchester or London

As Assistant Director of Communications, you will be joining us at an exciting time and have the opportunity to make a real impact on our work.

You will lead on managing our external and internal communications functions. This includes managing a team that, in addition to its core communications work, delivers activity ranging from our all staff event, our annual Open Meeting and our regular Radio Ombudsman podcast.

You will also be joining us as we start developing our next corporate strategy. The Ombudsman and Chief Executive have made clear their ambition for us to raise our public profile. You will have an important role to play as a key adviser on how to shape our new corporate strategy to achieve this. You will also play a lead role in designing our new communications strategy that will sit alongside it.

An experienced leader and people manager, you will help develop and lead the communications function and our people into the new direction set out in our strategy.

You will also work closely with other Assistant Directors to help maximise the benefit of our ambitious current work programme, both externally and with our staff.

Sound judgement and an excellent understanding of the media is essential for this role.

Please submit your CV and supporting statement by 10am on 11 November."

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/jo...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I asked about the staff turnover of 43%:

"3 If Rob Behrens or any other senior PHSO figure has commented on the figure, please provide the recorded information you hold."

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

PHSO responded:

"3. No recorded information is held for this element of your request."

I found it strange that no recorded information existed on the thoughts of senior staff on the figure - it is huge. Perhaps those senior staff with responsibility for staff had moved on too.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

PHSO states:

PHSO does not consider that it would be fair to disclose this information.
We do not consider that staff in these roles would have an expectation
that their names would be released for the purposes of transparency and
accountability, and so it would not be fair to infringe on their privacy
rights.

==

Staff ‘expectations’ do not come into it.

Their contracts determine whether they are Public facing,...their work means that in contact with the public- representing the PHSO - or not.

If these staff are well paid to be public facing, why are they shy and unwilling to face the public, via Wdtk?

Surely it’s: Take the money, take the responsibility?

D. Moore left an annotation ()

JT Oakley,

PHSO have said that there is a real risk of clinical advisors being harassed, so the names cannot be released. I've statded that I think they are exaggerating.

Update:

19 Nov. 2019 – ICO responded to GRC to say that the Commissioner will not be represented at the oral hearing and will rely on submissions already made.

20 Nov. 2019 - PHSO indicated that they are also content to rely on the submissions they have made.

22 Nov. 2019 – GRC kindly suggested that I could attend via telephone. (I said that I would prefer a normal oral hearing near to somewhere I can get to without difficulty – am awaiting response).

My understanding is that when an appeal is decided on the papers the normal procedure is something like this:

1. The appellant provides his grounds of appeal;
2. The Commissioner provides her Response;
3. The appellant can reply to the Response;
4. The public authority, if added as the Second Respondent, then deals with the appellant's reply;
5. The appellant can then respond to what the public authority writes.

In my case, stages 1-3 have occurred. The PHSO were also added as the Second Respondent, but have provided nothing for me challenge.

One concern I have is that a highly paid legal expert representing the PHSO (could be over £200 an hour) will present carefully prepared rebuttals to my reply (3), sprinkled with references to legal cases I know nothing about.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Ask them how many staff have been threatened ...and what’s did the threats consist of?

- anonymously of course.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Ask that their costs be limited.
Information ...saw that on another PHSO thread.
Don’t ask me where.

Personally I found that once you get into court, the panel realise that you are at a disadvantage and guide you through it by asking fair questions. But obviously you... can't count on it tho’

Also number all your evidential pages, that helps - if you still have a chance to do so.
You’re right to go to court because then you are in the British system, where you get to see their evidence.

And not the Continental - which is what The PHSO operates, where you don’t.

That’s what upsets so many complainants.

Make sure you’ve got everything that is listed to be given to the panel by the PHSO.

In my case, the PHSO thought it could slip the panel secret information , like it does to the ICO.
It’s the ‘ old pals’ act.

It can’t.

So watch that list like a hawk ...and ask for anything that you don’t have.

Good luck.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Ask that their costs be limited.'

I can't find anything specific on the PHSO and costs related to FOI tribunals, but I found these UT and F-t T decisions concerning seasoned appellant Dr Kirkham. The UT one concerns an unsuccessful attempt to claim expenses, and the F-t T one concerns his being hit with costs:

'40. Section 29 of TCEA 2007 provides as follows:

“Costs or expenses

(1)The costs of and incidental to—(a) all proceedings in the First-tier Tribunal, and (b) all proceedings in the Upper Tribunal, shall be in the discretion of the Tribunal in which the proceedings take place.

(2)The relevant Tribunal shall have full power to determine by whom and to what extent the costs are to be paid.'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

'G: Costs

48. It seems to me that the Appellant’s conduct of these proceeding may have been such as to engage the Tribunal’s costs jurisdiction under rule 10. I regard many if not most of his interlocutory applications in this matter as having been entirely without merit.”

50. I invite the Respondent [Commissioner] to make an application under rule 10 (1) (b) or to inform the Tribunal within 14 days that she does not wish to do so. I refer both parties to the Decision of the Upper Tribunal (LandsChamber) in Willow Court Management Co (1985) Ltd v Alexander [2016] UKUT 290 (LC)5, which sets out the principles I would apply in determining an application for costs under the Tribunal Procedure Rules.'

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Latest senior job vacancy on PHSO site:

"Senior Financial Accountant
Closing date
29 November 2019 10:00am
Length of contract
Permanent
Salary
£52,020
Location
Manchester

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join our Finance Team in the Manchester office. We are looking for a financial professional who can demonstrate that they have solid financial accounting skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to transform systems and ways of working to deliver high quality financial services."

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/jo...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The PHSO's legal costs can be considerable.

In this case from 2014:

"73. MR JUSTICE JAY: How much do you seek?

74. MR MAURICI: My Lord, the schedule, the total figure is £80,654.35."

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

The Defendant is the 'The Health Service Commissioner', but this is the PHSO:

"The Health Service Commissioner for England still retains the post of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and is more commonly called the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Ser...

The same person made a second claim against the PHSO earlier this year:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

JTO and JR,

Thanks for you comments. There's been a development...

The PHSO have told the GRC that they will not be attending the oral hearing. Given that the ICO have indicated that they will not be attending either, the prospect of my attending on my own would be unusual.

In light of the PHSO's decision not to attend, the PHSO have consented to the matter being dealt with on the papers only. Given that this is what I wanted in the first place, I have agreed.

The PHSO have said that they are willing to rely on their own submissions. I am currently seeking to discover whether I have received all of their submissions. Documentary evidence points to the PHSO being aware that they had to make submissions by a particular date, but I have not received a copy of any submissions they made.

Will keep you informed.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

D Moore,

You may be interested in this story concerning what a clinical advisor wrote in a report:

'The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has admitted its findings on Benjamin Bowdler, who died while in a vegetative state in 2012, “may not be robust” due to “significant” failings.

Mr Behrens’ letter reveals the review of the case found Mrs Whalley had offers to meet with the PHSO to discuss her complaint withdrawn for no good reason.

One clinical adviser was also found to have made “entirely unacceptable comments”.

Evidence was not gathered properly, the coroner’s report into Mr Bowdler’s death was incorrectly omitted from the investigation and concerns about incorrect guidance being used by those probing Mr Bowdler’s death was not properly scrutinised.'

https://www.wigantoday.net/news/people/n...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

You might be interested to know a PHSO clinical advisor ended up in court..

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/health/di...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Jt Oakley,

Thanks for the link.

I received two bundles today (one relates to the hourly costs of lawyers used by the PHSO).

It appears that the PHSO made no submissions after I replied to the Commissioner's Response, but one communication does point to the ICO and the PHSO working collaboratively to create the content of the Decision Notice.

I presented a rebuttal to a PHSO argument contained in another ICO decision notice (see below). The ICO not only challenged my rebuttal, but asked the PHSO if the challenge was up to scratch and whether they would like to add anything:

'Is there anything further you would like to add to this argument before the notice is issued?'

The communication in question can be viewed here:

https://informationrights.home.blog/2019...

Other ICO decision notice referred to above:

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

If the threat to clinical - and other advisors - is real, the PHSO will be able to prove it.

If it can’t substantiate its opinion, then it would seem it is a false argument.