New Director of External Affairs, Strategy and Communications - Rebecca Hilsenrath

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

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

David Hencke is reporting that the post of Director of External Affairs, Strategy and Communications has been filled by Rebecca Hilsenrath:

https://davidhencke.com/2021/04/11/2663-...

1. Please provide (i) the number of applications you received for the post (ii) the number of candidates shortlisted (iii) the number of candidates interviewed.

2. For each part of 1. please specify the numbers in relation to internal candidates.

3. Please disclose the amount paid to the recruitment agency Hays (and any other recruitment agencies, if applicable) in respect of filling the post.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s
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J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Desirable Criteria Skills

• Strong crisis and reputation management skills'

https://microcontrib.hays.com/documents/...

Some stuff on crises:

'Crises can be divided into three categories:

1. Creeping Crises – foreshadowed by a series of events that decision makers don’t view as part of a pattern.

2. Slow-Burn Crises – some advance warning, before the situation has caused any actual damage.

3. Sudden Crises – damage has already occurred and will get worse the longer it takes to respond.

https://managementhelp.org/blogs/crisis-...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The most likely reasons I can think of for the postholder needing crisis management skills fall into the categories of 'creeping' and 'slow burn':

Creeping:

Inadequate two-way communication with all audiences, internal and external

Slow burn:

Internet activism
Sudden management changes – voluntary or involuntary
Company reputation
Most discrimination complaints.

Maybe issues like these:

Campaigning group PHSO the Facts:

https://twitter.com/phsothefacts

Mr Behren's apology re report on Averil Hart's death

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

Your complaint to Conservative Home about article by Bruce Newsome
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/y...

PHSO's Trustpilot account

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

Massive data breach - Did you publish thousands of complainants' names?

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

Dame Julie Mellor, Deputy Ombudsman Mick Martin and the "sexual abuse cover-up".

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

Miss Humma Rashid v Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman

'The respondent directly discriminated against the claimant because of her protected characteristic of disability (dyslexia) in contravention of section 13 of the Equality Act 2010.'

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Ms Hilsenrath has appeared on Ombudsman Radio (14):

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/transcript-...

Transcript:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/transcript-...

Strategy was discussed:

Rebecca: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission developed a manual for ombudsmen, which I’m sure you're aware of, on human rights.

Rob:    Yes.

Rebecca:    And that is exactly how we need to be working. We’ve provided training, we have an advice-to-advisors line, where we try to provide ombudsmen with better understanding of expert areas. But ombudsmen are in a fantastic place, to be able to look at these things on a case-by-case basis. We tend to be more strategic. Ombudsman are looking at it very much on the ground.

And those two things meet. Because you're able to establish trends, you're able to be able to share information of what’s going on, on the ground. And we’re able to look at strategic issues and then sort of bring them down and establish precedent.

So, I see it as a fantastic partnership. And I couldn’t be more delighted, if you're looking to embed that in your strategic plan.

Report referred to:

'This Section focuses specifically on exploring whether the bodies complained of showed regard for human rights. Where the Section provides examples of regard having been evidenced sufficiently this does not mean that a finding of maladministration could not be reached on grounds of one of the other Principles of Good Administration.' (page 97)

'Example 1:

In this case the NIPSO considers the Trust had a responsibility to show regard for the human rights of Mrs Jones. I should be grateful therefore if you could provide copies of any relevant policies, procedures or guidance, and in particular those relating to:

•discharge practices;
•activities available in the nursing home•use of bed rails, wheelchair belts etc
.•use of wheelchairs
•how decisions are made with regard to older people’s needs including in relation to rehabilitation' (page 108)

https://nipso.org.uk/site/wp-content/upl...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I still can't find anything on the PHSO website announcing Ms Hilsenrath's appointment (she appeared on Radio Ombudsman in January 2020).

She did, however, announce it herself via Twitter on 12 April:

'So very excited to be joining @PHSOmbudsman this morning. Preparation included moving house, just to ensure I have a new office for the role.'

https://twitter.com/RJHilsenrath

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The 'slow burn' category might also include requests made via WDTK:

'4.2.6 The risks associated with putting information in this forum [WDTK] have been mitigated by involving the press/external affairs team as appropriate in drafting the responses. Either way, the Executive Director of External Affairs and Strategy** has seen and approved each of the responses before they have been posted on 'What do they know'.

4.2.7 This arrangement is working well; it mitigates the reputational risks and is not currently impacting on our ability to meet statutory deadlines. However, these requests and the people making them are challenging to manage and each request usually leads to follow up correspondence or further requests.

4.2.8 As will be clear, the requests made via this website are more time consuming than the FOI requests we receive in writing. Consequently the nuber of requests received through 'What do they know' continues to rise it may begin to impact on our throughput and output. It may also begin to impact on the work of the External Affairs...'

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2... (page 28 of my document reader)

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'4.2.8 As will be clear, the requests made via this website are more time consuming than the FOI requests we receive in writing.'

I tend to agree with this comment.

You can see some of the requests the PHSO received in writing here:

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

Of the requests 21 with an FOI reference, most received no substantive response. Either no information was held or exemptions applied (s12 and s44).

One interesting response concerned the ICO (ref. R0001221), and the growing number of complaints about it received by the PHSO:

'We received 242 complaints regarding ICO in 2019/20

In 2019/20 PHSO closed 234 complaints regarding ICO at intake, assessment or consideration stage and 1 at investigation.

29 complaints about ICO were still open as of 31 March 2020'

I couldn't see anything to indicate that any of the complaints were upheld.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Roberts

PHSO reference FOI185.
Your request for information

Thank you for your correspondence of 12th April 2021 in which you requested information from the PHSO. For reference, your request was for:

“1. Please provide (i) the number of applications you received for the post (ii) the number of candidates shortlisted (iii) the number of candidates interviewed.

2. For each part of 1. please specify the numbers in relation to internal candidates.

3. Please disclose the amount paid to the recruitment agency Hays (and any other recruitment agencies, if applicable) in respect of filling the post.”

PHSO response

PHSO holds information relevant to your requests. I will address each request in turn:

1. (i) The number of applications received for this job vacancy totalled 58. (ii) Of this total, 5 candidates were shortlisted (iii) and it is those 5 candidates that were interviewed.

2. For each part of 1 there were no internal candidates. There were 0 applicants from within the PHSO.

3. PHSO holds information relevant to this request. However, PHSO considers the information is exempt under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as disclosure would likely prejudice the commercial interests of PHSO and Hays, and the balance of the public interest favours maintaining the exemption.

Disclosing the held information would reveal the rates that Hays sets for PHSO, so by releasing this PHSO would not just be showing the amount it paid but the commercially sensitive rates through which the amount was reached. This would likely prejudice Hays commercial interests as it would allow rival recruitment firms to use the information to a competitive advantage. It would likely prejudice PHSO’s commercial interests as leading firms would be more reluctant to offer their services, which reduces the competitiveness of the bids it receives for contracts.

PHSO considers there is in an inherent public interest argument in transparency over public spending, however this is outweighed by the argument to support ensuring public authorities are able to obtain the best value for money with public spending. In addition, there is a public interest argument in allowing private firms to operate with a degree of confidentiality in commercially sensitive areas. Based on this, PHSO considers that the balance of the public interest favours maintaining the exemption.

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, you should write to [email address] and explain why you are dissatisfied.

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Citygate
47 – 51 Mosley Street
Manchester M2 3HQ

Please note that the PHSO will not normally accept an application for internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that the reply was issued.

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

https://ico.org.uk/

Information Rights Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

A lot more applicants for this post (58) than there were for the post of Assistant Director of Operational Performance (1):

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

29/4/22

Ms Hilsenrath discusses the shocking case of a woman raped while holidaying in Turkey who was told to “carry on with your holiday and enjoy it” when she reported the matter (starts at 2:20):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0016pmz

PHSO information:

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

Case summary:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/foreign-off...