Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The BBC has published a shocking story of a woman who lost a High Court action against the Ombudsman:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30279915

"The bereaved mother's request to the Ombudsman for an investigation was originally rejected, although her complaint is now being looked into."

The bereaved mother, however, has stated:

"No amount of money could make up for the distress this process has caused me”

Please provide information on:

i.) the job title of the person who originally rejected the complaint;

ii) the job title(s) of any other PHSO personnel who originally considered and confirmed the rejection of the complaint;

iii) the total number of cases the person who originally rejected the complaint considered in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection of the complaint;

iv.) the number of cases the person who originally rejected the complaint rejected in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection of the complaint;

v.) the total number of cases the person who ultimately considered and confirmed the original rejection of the complaint considered and confirmed in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection of the complaint;

vi.) the number of cases the person who ultimately considered and confirmed the original rejection of the complaint rejected in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection of the complaint.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

foiofficer, 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.

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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

 

Your information request (FDN-209058)

 

Thank you for your email of 3 December 2014 in which you asked for
information in the following terms:

 

The BBC has published a shocking story of a woman who lost a High Court
action against the Ombudsman:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30279915

"The bereaved mother's request to the Ombudsman for an investigation was
originally rejected, although her complaint is now being looked into."

The bereaved mother, however, has stated:

"No amount of money could make up for the distress this process has caused
me”

Please provide information on:
i.)  the job title of the person who originally rejected the complaint;
ii)  the job title(s) of any other PHSO personnel who originally
considered and confirmed the rejection of the  complaint;
iii)  the total number of cases the person who originally rejected the
complaint considered in the six-month period immediately preceding the
date of the original rejection of the complaint;
iv.)  the number of cases the person who originally rejected the complaint
rejected in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the
original rejection of the complaint;
v.)  the total number of cases the person who ultimately considered and
confirmed the original rejection of the complaint considered and confirmed
in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original
rejection of the complaint;
vi.)   the number of cases the person who ultimately considered and
confirmed the original rejection of the complaint rejected in the
six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection
of the complaint.

 

I am not able to discuss the specific details of any matter that involves
the personal information of an individual (the person whose case you refer
to and that of the staff members involved).  Therefore I am unable to
provide you with any information that would directly answer your queries
in accordance with section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA).  However, in order to assist you, I can offer some general
comments on your queries. 

 

Generally, a complaint is considered firstly by our Customer Services
Team, and then by our Investigations Team.  If a review is requested, this
is then considered by our Review Team.  If there is legal action, then our
legal team would also be involved.

In relation to the individual performance data that you are seeking in
parts (iii) – (vi), I am also unable to release any information under
section 40(2) of the FOIA as this information is personal to another
individual.  You may however be interested in our general statistical data
available in the publications of our Annual Report available at
[1]www.ombudsman.org.uk/a-voice-for-change  In addition, our monthly
performance statistics are available on our website at:
[2]www.ombudsman.org.uk/improving-public-service/performance-statistics

I hope that you find this information helpful.  Should you have any
further queries or would like to ask for a review of my decision, you can
do so by writing to [3][email address]. 

Sincerely

 

 

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [4]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [5][email address]

 

 

From: J Roberts [mailto:[FOI #242632 email]]
Sent: 03 December 2014 12:45
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - PHSO failure to investigate case
of hospital death (BBC)

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The BBC has published a shocking story of a woman who lost a High Court
action against the Ombudsman:

[6]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30279915

"The bereaved mother's request to the Ombudsman for an investigation was
originally rejected, although her complaint is now being looked into."

The bereaved mother, however, has stated:

"No amount of money could make up for the distress this process has caused
me”

Please provide information on:

i.)  the job title of the person who originally rejected the complaint;

ii)  the job title(s) of any other PHSO personnel who originally
considered and confirmed the rejection of the  complaint;

iii)  the total number of cases the person who originally rejected the
complaint considered in the six-month period immediately preceding the
date of the original rejection of the complaint;

iv.)  the number of cases the person who originally rejected the complaint
rejected in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the
original rejection of the complaint;

v.)  the total number of cases the person who ultimately considered and
confirmed the original rejection of the complaint considered and confirmed
in the six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original
rejection of the complaint;

vi.)   the number of cases the person who ultimately considered and
confirmed the original rejection of the complaint rejected in the
six-month period immediately preceding the date of the original rejection
of the complaint.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

-------------------------------------------------------------------

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please contact us using this form:
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If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Why is it 'personal information' when the request does not ask for names?

Unless there is only one person in the job, ie Legal Advisor... the employees cannot be identified.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

JT Oakley,

I don't see how all of my requests could possibly be seen as requests for personal information. I'll request a review.

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 'PHSO failure to investigate case of hospital death (BBC)'.

I do not see how all of my requests could possibly be seen as requests for personal information. The job title "caseworker", for example, identifies no one. Please make explicit which of my requests you consider to be requests for personal information, if you persist in refusing to provide the information requested.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

foiofficer, 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.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

This is a good demonstration of how the PHSO operarates.

If you try and find out how this strange and secretive system works in practice, ( and that's distinct from how the PHSO publically states that it works) your request is immediately viewed as being tantamount to vexatious.

You mustn't be allowed to know.

What you are asking is what are the job titles of the employees involved in processing a request. Not who processed it.That's a reasonable request to find out if the system is operating as it should be.

But the PHSO ignores the governments recommendation to be 'transparent and open' by stating that you are asking for 'personal information'.

The PHSO has therefore redefined 'personal information' in an attempt to stop you finding out how a complaint was processed.

This is what the ICO says in personal data:

'For data to constitute personal data, it must relate to a living individual, and that individual must be identifiable.

In considering whether information requested under FOIA is personal data, the public authority must decide whether the information satisfies both parts of the definition'.

:::::

Which makes me think that it has even more to hide.

Incidentally, since the court case may be in the public domain, the information you seek may be already accessible.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The case is already widely in the public domain - by the complainants actions.

And is yet another case of a NHS authority 'losing' notes - which prevents a proper investigation.
This is seemingly now becoming the pervasive NHS strategy.

The Ombudsman has the power to demand that the Authority hands over the notes - and can visit the premises if it wishes - as it has the 'power of a high court judge'.

The problem may be that the case remained with the caseworker and his/her handler. And was never given to a member of the PHSO's legal team to determine whether or not the PHSO should apply its legal powers.

Your request may throw some light on exactly why the PHSO did not - and will not - use the judicial power given to it to properly investigate ' missing notes' cases.

Either:

1. It is intent on covering for negligent NHS organisations - by not investigating those which just won't hand over the evidence to the complainant.

2. It is incompetent in the way it processes 'missing notes' cases by allowing them to be decided at a lower level.

3. It is just too time consuming for the PHSO's legal team to use the PHSO's wide ranging powers on behalf of bereaved complainants, to safeguard the lives of other patients.

In this case, there may have been some effort by the Ombudsman to obtain the 'missing' notes from the NHS authority ..once a judicial review was threatened.

But the Ombudsman rightly refused to put the information of the scope etc of the investigation etc...' until the case was over'. The case has been decided and therefore the Ombudsman no longer has to retain this information.

Therefore presumably Irene Morris'case is now being properly investigated.

But logically, why should complainants be put to the trouble and expense of a potential judicial review when the the Ombudsman could and should have acted on the 'missing' notes sooner?

Your request may help to ascertain where the process goes wrong for the complainant.

::::

Mother loses action over decision by ombudsman not to investigate records loss PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 December 2014 13:55
The mother of a woman who died as an inpatient at a London hospital has lost a High Court challenge against the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) over its refusal to investigate the loss of her daughter’s medical records.
Irene Morris’s daughter, Alexis, died of a urinary tract infection on 12 July 2011 after five years as an inpatient at St Thomas’ Hospital. She had been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2005.
Mrs Morris subsequently requested Alexis’ medical records from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. However, the trust could not supply a full set of records.
Her lawyers, Bindman & Partners, said the trust had “never produced significant records relating to oncology, chemotherapy and pharmacy amongst other aspects of Alexis’s treatment, without proper explanation for their loss”.
When Mrs Morris complained to the PHSO, the Ombudsman said the loss of records was “unreasonable”, but it would have been unable to find them and therefore saw no reason to investigate.
Mrs Morris, advised by the law firm and Philip Coppel QC of Landmark Chambers, brought a judicial review action against the Ombudsman’s refusal to investigate.
The trust subsequently found some of the missing records, and conducted a futher investigation. This led to another complaint by Mrs Morris to the PHSO.
According to Bindmans, the Ombudsman agreed to investigate, but “refused to expedite their own procedures in order to confirm the scope, which could have resolved matters, prior to [the High Court] hearing”.
Mr Justice Jay gave his judgment at the end of the hearing, rejecting Mrs Morris’ application for judicial review. The judge concluded that the PHSO’s interpretation of her complaint was reasonable.
He expressed “considerable sympathy” for Mrs Morris on the basis that she had been given the “metaphorical run around” by the Trust, which had “not covered itself in glory”, Bindmans said.
The judge reportedly found that the trust had “unsatisfactory systems”, that they had “fallen short” and therefore “someone should investigate".
The judge urged the Ombudsman to investigate Mrs Morris’ “fresh complaint in full and in accordance with the claimant’s wishes.”
Mrs Morris said: “While obviously disappointed not to succeed in my legal claim, I do not consider this to be loss. Mr Justice Jay rightly recognised that there were serious concerns regarding the Trust’s record-keeping during Alexis’s time in hospital that should be investigated.
“In accordance with the judge’s suggestion, I can only hope that the Ombudsman will investigate such matters in full to ensure that this cannot happen again.”
A Parliamentary and Health Service spokesman said: “We are pleased the judge recognised that we acted reasonably in this case. We never wanted this to come to court and made every effort to settle the case without legal proceedings.

“We have accepted a complaint from Mrs Morris to investigate the adequacy of Guys and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust’s recent investigation into the loss of her daughter’s medical records and hope the independent, impartial investigation we are carrying out will give Mrs Morris the answers she seeks and brings her some closure with regards to what has happened.”

Local Government law publication.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Fact: the Parliamentary Health Select Committee found in 2011 that the NHS Complaints was not working and the role of the PHSO needed a "complete overhaul" ......this case is a perfect example of why! http://www.parliament.uk/business/commit...

++Feedbackaboutus@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

 

We are writing in response to your email of 2 January 2014.

 

We are sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your
information request

entitled 'PHSO failure to investigate case of hospital death (BBC)'.

 

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to

our Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve

Brown.

 

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once

his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review

that we will undertake.

 

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

 

Kind regards

 

 

Customer Care Team

 

   

 

 

show quoted sections

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [email address]

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Follow us on

[2]fb  [3]twitter  [4]linkedin

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/phsombudsman
3. http://www.twitter.com/PHSOmbudsman
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/parliame...

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Brown Steve running true to form I see!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I can't understand how an anonymous caseworker - one of many - would become immediately 'identifiable' from the information you ask for.

Identified by whom? You? ....You would not know their name from the response.

It's possible to apply the DPA secrecy determination to a singular job ie..Ombudsman, or Legal Advisor.. Because these names are publically available ....But 'A caseworker?'

It seems that the PHSO determines that its employees are entitled to secrecy, even when their personal identities cannot be known.

Here's the guidance:

What is personal data?
‘Personal data’ is defined in section 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 as: data which relate to a living individual who can be identified –
a) fromthosedata,or
b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller,
and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.
The definition of 'personal data' is very wide. For example, it could include the fact that a particular person is the author of a document and the fact that a person attended a particular meeting.
But in most cases it will be obvious whether information is personal data, for example a medical history, criminal record, or a record of a particular individual’s performance at work.
The definition of ‘personal data’ only applies to information relating to living individuals. Information that relates solely to a deceased person is not covered.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

In response to a PHSO report, the BBC is wanting to speak to people with stories of poor end-of-life care:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-32797768

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

I can't see any request to submit stories to the BBC on your link J. Roberts? Can you point me in the right direction?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Sorry about that. There was a form to fill in at the bottom of the story but it is no longer there.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Maybe they thought twice about opening a can of worms. Thanks.

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