Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I refer to a previous FOI request (FDN-227063).

You stated in your response that you now have 'specialist' teams working on cases.
'Taking this approach also allows us to align our clinical advisors to
teams to improve how we obtain advice and making sure each team has
sufficient resource in this area and can access it more easily'

You also stated that you have specialist teams for;

Complaints about larger departments which are the subject of a
high number of the complaints we receive, such as the Department for Work
and Pensions, HM Courts and Tribunal Service and Cafcass.

I notice there is no mention of any Home Office/UKVI specialist teams? And yet according to your own report, you receive an inordinately high number of complaints about this organisation.
1. Do you have a specialist team dedicated to working on Home Office and all affiliated agencies complaints?
2. If not - could you tell me which 'specialist' team deals with these complaints?
3. If you do have a specialist team working on these complaints, could you tell me how many members of this team are there?
4. Could you also provide me with the number of complaints you have had against the UKVI in the last year?
5. Could you tell me how many of these complaints against the UKVI were investigated and how many were upheld?
6. Could you tell me which team deals with complaint's against your own organisation?
7. If there is no team specifically dealing with complaints against the PHSO - could you please explain your procedures for dealing with complaints against your own organisation?
For the avoidance of doubt, 'complaints' would not include requests for a review. I will deal with this separately.
8. How many complaints against your organisation have you had in the last year?
9. How many requests have you received for reviews in the last year?
10. Which team deals with review requests and what are your current procedures for accepting reviews?

If you are unable to provide me with current statistics as they are to be published in the near future, then please provide me with the link or the statistics for the previous year.

There are still a high number of complainants stating that the PHSO ignore their correspondence. I, myself, sent in an enquiry email four weeks ago, and have had no response.

11. Who receives incoming correspondence?
12. Is all incoming correspondence logged? if it is logged, could you please provide me with the details of where and how correspondence is logged. if it is not logged, could you explain what your procedures are for incoming correspondence?

You state in your automated response to emails;

'Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
What happens next?
If you are complaining to us for the first time, it will be about two weeks before one of our Customer Service Officers will be able to look at your case. We are very sorry for the wait. Unfortunately we are working on a high number of cases at the moment. Once our Customer Service Officer has had a chance to read your complaint, they will contact you to discuss it in more detail and let you know what will happen next.
If you are contacting us about an existing complaint, we will make sure that your email goes to the caseworker dealing with your case.'

13. Could you explain how a Customer Service Officer gets allocated a complaint or an email from the time it is submitted to the PHSO?
14. Could you confirm whether or not the Customer Service Officer makes the decision as to whether or not to accept the complaint (based on your acceptance criteria)?
15. Could you provide me with any information as to whether your employees have received any training in dealing with bereaved complainants?
16. If any of your employees have received training or advice in dealing with bereavement - please provide me with the details.

Yours faithfully,

CA Purkis

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.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Once the PHSO can define 'maladministration', it may have an inkling as to what it should be doing:

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

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Agreed JT Oakley. I have internal CID notes from the UKVI to show they can't trace my son's passport and visa documents. It's right their on their database in black and white. They seem to have misplaced the most important document my son has. His grandfather is in an ICU unit in South Africa, but the very polite young man at the PHSO says there is nothing they can do until the UKVI respond to us. Two months later and the UKVI have ignored our letters and our MP. Still the PHSO say we need to wait. The UKVI service standard times (28 days) are only an indication apparently.
So absolute and clear maladministration, but no help from the only organisation that could take the UKVI to task. When I asked the young man how much longer he expected us to wait for a response from the UKVI - he said he couldn't say. Clear policies then. Fast and Fair.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

I was told that 'malpractice' regarding assessment practice at further education centre was defined by JCQ. Then when I defined it Ofqual said JCQ definition only guideline and not mandatory. If policies are only guidelines how can the Ombudsman ever determine maladministration? Total farce.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Total Farce sums it up!

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Following this FOI;
Trying to get The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman or the County Courts to define or acknowledge maladministration IS an absolute farce. You, Dee & the Pressure Group are spot on.

We all seem to have been stitched up from the start?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

In the interests of fairness, I would like to add an update to this request. I have since had an almost unbelievable response from the Home Office, who have completely held their hands up to every error we accused them of. I have never ever had them do this before, so it only remains for them to action their wrongdoing. I will not hold my breath until this is done. Also - The PHSO - Since this request and my annotation they acknowledged my email and contacted the Home Office to ask them when they intended responding to us. So despite not yet accepting a complaint on our behalf - they did try and help us.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I listened to File on Four last night - "UK Asylum: A Systems Failure?" It was grim listening. The Home Office is a broken wreck.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b072n9s7

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

Your information request – our case reference: FDN-250431

 

I am writing in response to your Freedom of Information request dated 3
March 2016. I have responded to your questions below.

 

“I notice there is no mention of any Home Office/UKVI specialist teams?
And yet according to your own report, you receive an inordinately high
number of complaints about this organisation.

 

1. Do you have a specialist team dedicated to working on Home Office and
all affiliated agencies complaints?

 

2. If not - could you tell me which 'specialist' team deals with these
complaints?

 

3. If you do have a specialist team working on these complaints, could you
tell me how many members of this team are there?

 

In relation to questions 1 -3, we have a parliamentary investigations team
comprising seven investigators and one manager that carry out
investigations about the Home Office (this includes UK Visa & Immigration
(UKVI)). However the team also investigate other government bodies such as
Defra and the Department for Transport.

 

4. Could you also provide me with the number of complaints you have had
against the UKVI in the last year?

 

5. Could you tell me how many of these complaints against the UKVI were
investigated and how many were upheld?”

 

In relation to questions 4 and 5, in 2014/15 we received 422 complaints
about UKVI and of the 106 investigations about UKVI concluded in 2014/15
we upheld 30 and partly upheld 49.

 

6. Could you tell me which team deals with complaints against your own
organisation?

 

7. If there is no team specifically dealing with complaints against the
PHSO - could you please explain your procedures for dealing with
complaints against your own organisation?

 

For the avoidance of doubt, 'complaints' would not include requests for a
review. I will deal with this separately.

 

8. How many complaints against your organisation have you had in the last
year?

 

9. How many requests have you received for reviews in the last year?

 

10. Which team deals with review requests and what are your current
procedures for accepting reviews?

 

In relation to questions 6 to 10, much of the information you have asked
for can be found on our website ([1]www.ombudsman.org.uk). We have also
responded to a number of information requests about how we handle
complaints about us, which can be found on the whatdotheyknow website. I
have provided a few links below which will take to you to the relevant
information.

 

Complaints about the PHSO are handled by our Customer Care Team, and the
Corporate Casework Team will look into complaints about our decisions
which meet the review criteria. Further details about our process can be
found in -

 

Customer Care Guidance:
[2]www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/33342/FDN-223754-PHSO-Customer-Care-Guidance.pdf

On the ‘feedback about us’ on our website at:
[3]www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint/feedback-about-us

Our Annual Report for 2014 – 2015 from page 21:
[4]www.ombudsman.org.uk/pdfs/publication-scheme/annual-reports-and-resource-accounts/annual-reports/FINAL_PHSO_Annual_Report_2014-15_SINGLE_PAGES_low_res.pdf

 

You can access released data on the whatdotheyknow website using the
following links -

Number and types of complaints about us received and positive feedback:
[5]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/309475/response/763738/attach/3/FDN%20244774.pdf
and

[6]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/277110/response/680555/attach/3/0014ScannedCustomerCareTeamfigures1January30June2015.pdf

 

Review of complaint decisions:

[7]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/complaints_about_phso_monthly_st#incoming-769212

[8]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/decision_and_service_complaints#incoming-787162

 

I can confirm in the business year 2015/16 we received 1969 requests for
review (to be clear this figure excludes complaints about our service,
post review correspondence and longstanding complaints).

 

“There are still a high number of complainants stating that the PHSO
ignore their correspondence. I, myself, sent in an enquiry email four
weeks ago, and have had no response.

11. Who receives incoming correspondence?”

 

All incoming correspondence is received by our Post Team at our offices in
London and Manchester.

 

“12. Is all incoming correspondence logged? if it is logged, could you
please provide me with the details of where and how correspondence is
logged. if it is not logged, could you explain what your procedures are
for incoming correspondence?”

 

I can confirm we do not hold recorded information on the procedures about
how incoming correspondence is logged. However incoming post received by
the Post Team is recorded on the relevant electronic case file and the
hard copy is passed on to the team handling the case.

 

You may be interested in a similar request which we responded to recently,
please click on the link:
[9]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/post_team_and_customer_care_team#incoming-773377

 

“You state in your automated response to emails; 'Thank you for contacting
the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. What happens next? If you
are complaining to us for the first time, it will be about two weeks
before one of our Customer Service Officers will be able to look at your
case. We are very sorry for the wait. Unfortunately we are working on a
high number of cases at the moment. Once our Customer Service Officer has
had a chance to read your complaint, they will contact you to discuss it
in more detail and let you know what will happen next. If you are
contacting us about an existing complaint, we will make sure that your
email goes to the caseworker dealing with your case.'

 

13. Could you explain how a Customer Service Officer gets allocated a
complaint or an email from the time it is submitted to the PHSO?

 

14. Could you confirm whether or not the Customer Service Officer makes
the decision as to whether or not to accept the complaint (based on your
acceptance criteria)?”

 

In relation to questions 13 and 14, the automated acknowledgement you have
quoted belongs to our intake team which handle complaints about the NHS
and government bodies. You can access information about our assessment
process on our website at:
[10]www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint/what-happens-to-a-complaint/how-we-assess-your-complaint-our-assessment-code.

 

The Customer Service Officer will make an assessment of the complaint in
line with our Enquiry and Assessment Manual (which is also available on
our website). The final decision is agreed with their manager and is a
corporate decision.

 

“15. Could you provide me with any information as to whether your
employees have received any training in dealing with bereaved
complainants?

 

16. If any of your employees have received training or advice in dealing
with bereavement - please provide me with the details.”

 

In relation to questions 15 and 16, we do not provide bereavement training
to all PHSO staff as a matter of course. However one of our lead
clinicians and a clinical advisor have developed a bereavement training
module for investigators. These sessions run on request and are for 2 –
2.5 hours (depending on the group size). The course objectives are listed
below:

 

Objectives

 

By the end of the session you will be able to:

 

1.    Describe the emotional, physical, behavioural and psychological
responses to bereavement.

2.    Refer to models and theories on bereavement and how they may be
drawn upon to help you in your casework.

3.    Consider ways of staying in role and managing complainant
expectation.

 

In 2015 we ran this course on the dates below:

 

o 24^th February – for 11 investigators in London
o 5^th March – for 12 investigators in Manchester
o 17^th September – for 6 investigators in Manchester when a former
Parliamentary Investigations team was transferred to become a team
that focused on health investigations

 

More generally, people who have need of our service often are distressed
by difficult circumstances, including the bereavement of someone close to
them. PHSO staff respond to the individual needs of the customer with
professionalism and sensitivity, and are recruited with the expectation
that every officer has the skills to respond appropriately to the
situations they face. We run a number of casework training skill courses
for staff who work in casework and customer service roles. In addition, we
would expect caseworkers to routinely turn to their line manager for
advice and support and to discuss issues as they arise. Also our
professional advisers are available to offer support and advice to
caseworkers if needed.

 

I hope the information provided is helpful. If you are dissatisfied with
the handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review by
emailing me at [11][email address].

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Sohifa Kadir

FOI/DP Officer

 

References

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

"I can confirm in the business year 2015/16 we received 1969 requests for review (to be clear this figure excludes complaints about our service, post review correspondence and longstanding complaints)."

That's 38 a week.

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