phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I asked to see the report on parliamentary complaints handled by PHSO for 2018/19 back in August 2019.

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

I was told they would be released by the end of the year.

We are now in January 2020 and as far as I can see they are still not released.

Can you please release this report or direct me to the place where I can find this data in the public domain.

Yours faithfully,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

It would appear that PHSO no longer responds to requests for FOI as two follow up requests for this information have been ignored. Will take this now to ICO.

Yours faithfully,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Della Reynolds

 

PHSO reference R0001057

Internal review of your request for information

 

Thank you for your correspondence of 8^th February 2020 in which you
requested an internal review from the PHSO.

 

PHSO response

 

Request:

 

Hi, the end of the year has come and gone and we are now in mid-January.
Can you point me in the direction of the data which refers to
Parliamentary Complaints handled by the Ombudsman 2018/2019?

 

 

Response to your request:

 

This request was refused under Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

 

 

Time for response:

 

Your request was received on 15^th January 2020. The response was issued
on 29^th January 2020. This is within the 20 working-day timescale set at
Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

 

Request for an internal review:

 

On 8^th February 2020 you asked for an internal review with the following:

 

I really do not understand why PACAC influences the release date for PHSP
data on parliamentary complaints. Can you explain why you hold this data
back? In April we will be into a new financial year so this data has been
available to PHSO for many months.

 

Is it the case that PHSO do not release the parliamentary complaint data
until after the PACAC meeting - which would then avoid proper scrutiny of
the way in which PHSO has held government bodies to account?

 

 

Review of your request:

 

PHSO upholds its refusal of your request under Section 22(1) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states:

 

(1) Information is exempt information if –

 

(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its
publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date
(whether determined or not),

(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at
the time when the request for information was made, and

(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should
be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph (a).

 

PHSO does hold the information and intends to publish it along with its
report to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
(PACAC). There is no fixed date at present, but this is because PHSO has
been waiting for PACAC to be formed following the general election in
December 2019.

 

Similarly, PHSO stated to you in September 2019 that we intended to
publish towards the end of the year because at that time we did not know
that the general election was going to be brought forward. Please accept
my apologies for this mistake. For both requests for this information PHSO
has always intended to disclose this information, but not before it is put
to PACAC.

 

PHSO considers that it is reasonable under the circumstances to delay
disclosure of the information until it was be published with its report to
PACAC. It has always been our intention to do so, and the unintentional
delay was a result of matters beyond PHSO’s control, for which it would
seem unreasonable to undermine the central argument for withholding until
publication – that this is the established way of releasing the
information, and in line what PHSO discloses to PACAC in previous years.

 

For these reasons PHSO considers that Section 22(1) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 is engaged. As Section 22(1) is a qualified exemption
PHSO will consider the balance of the public interest:

 

Arguments in favour of disclosure -

 

In favour of disclosing the information, PHSO acknowledges the argument
inherent in all public authority information for transparency. As you have
stated, disclosure of this information can provided details about
government departments, and could permit greater oversight of PHSO’s work
in this area.

 

Additionally, PHSO acknowledges that there has been a delay in releasing
this information, and that it is now beyond the original timeframe for
when the information would have been disclosed.

 

Arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption –

 

PHSO considers that Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
is engaged because it is reasonable under the circumstances to delay
publication. The exemption was introduced to allow public authorities a
degree of control over when information could be released, in order to
protect its own requirements. This has an inherent weight which must be
considered when assessing the balance of the public interest.

 

PHSO releases this information to PACAC, and then it is available in the
public domain. It is released on a regular basis in accordance with
established practice, and this helps maintain resources and public funds
by responding to premature requests.

 

PHSO would have already disclosed this information before the request of
was 15^th January 2020 was received, except that the parliament was
dissolved on 6^th November 2019. PHSO has been waiting upon the election
campaign to finish, and then for the new members of PACAC to be appointed.
This is clearly beyond PHSO’s control, and has only occurred because of a
democratic function of the UK government. PHSO considers that this shows
there is a valid reason for the delay, and that this does not mean the
exemption is diminished to the point where the balance of the public
interest favours disclosure.

 

 

Right of appeal

 

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

 

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

M Boyce left an annotation ()

'There is no fixed date at present [for the publication of the long delayed and now withheld information] , but this is because PHSO has been waiting for PACAC to be formed following the general election in December 2019.'

PACAC was formed on 02 March 2020 and the PHSO should be fully aware of this fact. There is now no excuse for further delay, but you can bet your bottom dollar the PHSO will find one.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"First annual casework report shows variety of complaints we see – but too few people are reaching us, says Ombudsman"

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

"The first annual Ombudsman’s Casework Report includes cases we closed in 2019 about the NHS in England, UK government departments and other public organisations.

It also includes complaints about mental health care in England and an example of a complaint we resolved without the need for a formal investigation."

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/publication...

'Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “What connects the varied cases in this report is that something has gone wrong with a public service. When people bring such cases to us we hold organisations to account – making sure they learn from mistakes so they are not repeated.

“We hope that, as is the case for the NHS, complaints about the UK government and its agencies can soon come to us directly rather than needing referral by an MP. The legislation governing this is outdated and should be changed swiftly.”'

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho...

M Boyce left an annotation ()

The first annual casework report is as interesting for what it DOESN'T say, as it is for what it does say.

The report berates the Government for dragging its feet on the implementation of a new Public Service Ombudsman (PSO) (the draft legislation dates back to 2015), which would subsume the PHSO. It talks about how the new PSO would have own initiative powers and how it would remove the obstructive MP filter. What the report fails to mention with regard to the PSO is that it would also empower that Ombudsman to LEGALLY undertake reviews of its final decisions. As I have said many times, and is the issue now with the First-tier Tribunal, is that currently the PHSO has no statutory powers to undertake reviews - with all the serious complications that go with this. So why does the first annual casework report not mention this crucial barrier to modernisation? Is it because the PHSO are not really serious about modernisation?
The report does mention the desire for own initiative powers, but again, just how serious is the PHSO with regard to this reform? In response to my application for judicial review the PHSO said this to the High Court:

'...Again, the Ombudsman's role is to investigate the injustice sustained by the person making the complaint, NOT THE PUBLIC AT LARGE.'

The above is the exact quote of what the PHSO told the High Court. So if the PHSO is serious about own initiative powers, for whose benefit would this be? Not, according to the above quote, the general public. If the public are not to benefit from such own initiative powers, then by logical extension, the beneficiary of such powers would be the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman alone. What a surprise!

J Roberts left an annotation ()

From the spreadsheet:

Totals

Enquiries 5,744

Complaints assessed 1,493

Complaints resolved through intervention 35

Complaints accepted for investigation 110

Investigations fully upheld 3

Investigations partly upheld 36

Investigations not upheld 65

Investigations resolved without a finding 4

Investigations discontinued 25

The ICO:

Enquiries received 173

Complaints assessed 83

Complaints accepted for investigation 3

Investigation NOT upheld 1

Investigations discontinued 2

DWP

Enquiries received 1,553

Complaints assessed 191

Complaints resolved through intervention 2

Complaints accepted for investigation 30

Investigations fully upheld 0

Investigations partly upheld 4

Investigation NOT upheld 21

Investigations discontinued 5

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Of the 3 fully upheld investigations, 2 related to the Home Office (1 Border Force and 1 UK Visa and Immigration) and 1 to the Charity Commission.

Could the reason that Mr Behren wants the MP filter removed be connected to the apparent discrepancy between the number of MP referrals in 2018/19 (2,428) and the number of complaints assessed (1,493)?

It would appear that a large number of MP referrals don't even make it to assessment.

MP referral figures for 2018/19:

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

(612 MPs made the referrals – an average of about 4 referrals each).

M Boyce left an annotation ()

I think the reason that Rob Behrens wants the MP filter removed is so that more people will complain to the PHSO = more work and therefore money for them.
Anyone thinking of complaining to the PHSO would probably now decide not to waste their time given the minute level of complaints upheld. You would have a greater chance of winning the Euro lottery jackpot than getting an upheld decision from the PHSO. The statistics send out a very depressing message that authorities can rest assured that their failures and wrongdoing will always go unchallenged by the Ombudsman.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"The statistics send out a very depressing message that authorities can rest assured that their failures and wrongdoing will always go unchallenged by the Ombudsman."

Too true.

The perennial problem with language emerges – 'enquiries' and 'complaints'.

The response to Liz Perloff included this:

“There were 5,744 Parliamentary COMPLAINTS received in 2018/19” (emphasis added)

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

But:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

refers to 5,744 ENQUIRIES

The PHSO has previously disclosed that:

"An ‘enquiry’ is a term we currently use to describe cases that are at the initial intake stage. ‘complaint’ is a term we currently use to describe a case that is at any stage, and will depend on the context. It should be noted that PHSO language has changed over time. Historically, an enquiry was any case at stage 1 (intake) or stage 2 (assessment)."

Further confusion:

“An ‘enquiry’ relates an individual contacting us, in relation to anything.”

And

“An ‘enquiry’ refers solely to a request for PHSO to look at a complaint".'

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

Whether 'enquiries' or 'complaints' the message remains very depressing; nonetheless, the lack of clarity is very concerning.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

D Moore wrote:

“In her evidence to the Pacac committee on 22 January 2019, Amanda Campbell* cited figures for complainants who were 'happy' with the service they had received. She stated that 85% of complainants who had their complaints upheld were happy, and that 49% of complainants who did not have their complaints upheld held were happy.”

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

He requested:

“1. Please provide the number of complainants in each of the two categories to which the figures of 85% and 49% relate.”

The response:

“85% = 34 of 40 complainants

49% = 170 of 345 complainants”

The above figures do not specify what category or categories of complainants they include (Parliamentary and/or Health), but selecting such a high proportion of complainants from the small few who had their complaints upheld is clearly misleading. What if an equally high proportion of complainants who did not have their complaints upheld had been asked - and just one overall percentage figure was presented?

The figures (parliamentary/government body) for 2018/19 show that 38 complaints from a total of 5,744 enquiries were either fully or partly upheld (0.6%).

Will the “two-figure spin” be used again?

* " Amanda Amroliwala is Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Ombudsman at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Amanda joined the PHSO in October 2016 from the Home Office, where she held various senior leadership positions including Director General of Immigration Enforcement, Chief Operating Officer of Border Force, and Director of Leadership and Learning."

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

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Why would ANY complainant be happy to have their complaint not upheld? Perhaps those same complainants would be equally happy to be poked in the eye with a reprimanding finger.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"Why would ANY complainant be happy to have their complaint not upheld?"

I suppose it depends on the 'happy' question they have been asked.

Here is a highly misleading statement from the PHSO website:

"We investigate around 4,000 complaints a year and uphold, in full or in part, around 40%."

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-comp...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Information released today to another requester:

"In 2018/19 PHSO upheld 117 cases and partly upheld 629 cases at
investigation.

In 2018/19 PHSO concluded 871 investigations with an outcome of not
upheld."

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

If complaints are being unfairly rejected at an early stage (i.e. deemed not worthy of investigation), then these figures are plainly meaningless. As for the quality of investigations themselves...

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear InformationRights,

Can you please point me in the direction of the 2018/19 Parliamentary Complaints report as originally requested. I have searched your website and am unable to find it. Can you also confirm the date it was finally put into the public domain?

Yours sincerely,

Della Reynols

phsothefacts Pressure Group

InformationRights, 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.

Angharad Jackson
Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director Information Assurance
Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
PHSO CityGate
47-51 Mosley Street
Manchester
M2 3HQ
[email address]

J Roberts left an annotation ()

D Moore has also requested information relating to parliamentary complaints for 2018/19:

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

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Della Reynolds

The report can be found here:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/publication...

The report was published yesterday on 10th November 2020.

Regards,

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
E: [email address]
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

phsothefacts Pressure Group

Dear InformationRights,

It's a very short report considering it took so long to produce. The next PACAC scrutiny meeting of PHSO is to be held on 23rd November 2020 but once again the committee and the public have no data regarding parliamentary complaints for 2019/20 prior to this meeting. The annual report was published in the summer, yet the parliamentary complaint report is always held over until after the parliamentary scrutiny meeting. Why would that be?

Yours sincerely,

Della Reynolds

phsothefacts Pressure Group