'Regretted staff loss' - How are staff leavers terms defined?

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Since there seems to be some confusion as to whether I am asking for unfair atom under FOIA, or a letter in response:

I am writing to make an open government request for all the information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if necessary.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that information should not be treated as confidential if such an agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as electronic copies, via WDTK

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

The information required:

Request Title within scope.

This is an extract from your the PHSO Board meeting 28 July 2015...

7.2 Summary of Board discussion:

 Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though

regretted loss runs at 2%.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

:::

Referring to the term used at this meeting about staff leavers, I would like to know:

1. How does the PHSO determine what is a 'regretted loss'?( the 2 percent)

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?

2. How does the PHSO determine a 'non-regretted' loss? ( the 14.4 percent)

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe?

3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

4. I see that Dame Julie Mellor and CEO Mick Martin is at pains to congratulate PHSO staff in the Annual report.

Therefore why is it the case that the regretted losses are so low (7-1 ) in comparison to the non-regretted losses?

5. Was departing director of finance Mike Procter a 'regretted', or 'non regretted loss, after the PHSO found out that it had overspent its government awarded budget?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248090)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 13 February 2016, in which you
asked a number of questions about the way PHSO categorises staff loss.

 

I can confirm that we hold no information relevant to your questions as
phrased.  That is because PHSO does not use official criteria or terms to
describe staff loss, meaning that we hold no information relating to
questions one to three.

 

Further, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) only entitles a right
to an opinion where that opinion is already recorded.  We do not hold any
such recorded information which would answer questions four and five.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316247 email]]
Sent: 13 February 2016 16:10
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - 'Regretted staff loss' - How are
staff leavers terms defined?

 

     Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
    
     Since there seems to be some confusion as to whether I am asking
     for unfair atom under FOIA, or a letter in response:
    
     I am writing to make an open government request for all the
     information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
     Act 2000.
    
     Please send me recorded information, which includes information
     held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
     documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.
    
     If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
     clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
     understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
     assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).
    
     If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
     all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
     will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
     the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
     charge excessive fees.
    
     If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
     can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
     necessary.
    
     If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
     grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
     copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
     information should not be treated as confidential if such an
     agreement has not been signed.
    
     I would like the above information to be provided to me as
     electronic copies, via WDTK
    
     I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
     the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
     grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
     this request.
    
     The information required:
    
     Request Title within scope.
    
     This is an extract from your the PHSO Board meeting 28 July 2015...
    
     7.2 Summary of Board discussion:
    
     · Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent
     staff), though
    
     regretted loss runs at 2%.
    
    
[3]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...
    
     :::
    
     Referring to the term used at this meeting about staff leavers, I
     would like to know:
    
     1. How does the PHSO determine what is a 'regretted loss'?( the 2
     percent)
    
     What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?
    
     2. How does the PHSO determine a 'non-regretted' loss? ( the 14.4
     percent)
    
     What criteria and terms are used to ascribe?
    
     3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?
    
     4. I see that Dame Julie Mellor and CEO Mick Martin is at pains to
     congratulate PHSO staff in the Annual report.
    
     Therefore why is it the case that the regretted losses are so low
     (7-1 ) in comparison to the non-regretted losses?
    
     5. Was departing director of finance Mike Procter a 'regretted', or
     'non regretted loss, after the PHSO found out that it had overspent
     its government awarded budget?
    
     Yours faithfully,
    
     Jt Oakley
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
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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 ''Regretted staff loss' - How are staff leavers terms defined?'.

If there is no ratings criteria for leavers, how is the board able to cite - understand and agree this term - as a percentage of the whole ?

Presumably the criteria stems from the HR People and Talent department.

Has anyone asked this department how it categories its 'regretted leavers' and 'non-regretted leavers'.

If the term used as a shorthand description for other terms, and since the request is about definitions of categories of leavers, what are the definitive terms used for leavers by this department, or any other?

Surely there must be a form to be filled in when an employee leaves?

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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.

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

Dear JT Oakley

 

We are writing in response to your email of 10 March 2016.

 

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

 

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

 

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It wouldn't be so bad if Dame Julie Mellor and Mick Martin were not so keen to publically say how much the PHSO values its staff.

Seemingly their leavers regrets are too few to mention.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Expect it wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't lost all trust in them .....I expect the ET decision on Mick Martin is partially responsible but knowing the Dame seemed to condone his "corrupt" actions for over six months makes a mockery on openness and transparency......in my humble opinion!!!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

All we know is that Mrs Marks stated that she had sent a letter to Dame Julie Mellor.( below)

Would her personal office employees have the whit not to ignore it?

Since complainants letters are so arrogantly so dismissed by this office - with not even the courtesy of a receipt reply - is this what happened?

http://www.cloisters.com/images/Marks_-_...

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Dear Brown Steve,

Thank you Mr Brown,

Scope:

Time: Last three months ( redacted for all personal identifiable information) .

Regretted leavers - departed employees leaving forms from February, March, April 2O16 and blank leavers' form/ forms.

::

1. Please supply the leavers forms - which you have described in your response, to see if any light can be thrown on the use of the term 'unregretted leaver', or other HR terms used to describe departing employees.

The logical argument for this request is that all the PHSO board members must of fully understood the term, 'unregretted leavers' - since it was not questioned by a single board member.

And it is part of the board members remit to query terms which they do not understand - to ensure that the PHSO complies with its expected good governance.

Otherwise the PHSO's governance could be said to be at question - much as it was by PACAC, after its the recent overspending.

2. Please also supply the blank leavers form - as described.

The scope can be narrowed to two months - March and April- if there are too many leaving forms to process within the FOIA financial time frame - as I gather that the PHSO employees are still leaving at a rate of around 20percent a year, which would mean - on average - seven a month. That should give a small representative sample.

::::

The same criteria /scope follows on from the request above - if this request is defined as a following request - from the information outlined in Mr Brown's response above.

If this is considered is a new request, then please include the criteria stated from the original request and by Mr Brown's response to it and my request for following information above.

::::

Regretted leavers - departed employees leaving forms from February, March, April 2O16 and blank leavers' form/ forms.

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK. The information should be immediately
readable - and, as a freedom of Information request, not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::

Please consider the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.

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

This request does not require a letter, drafted by the External Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees, and purporting to be the response to an FOIA request.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Dear Brown Steve,

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Since there seems to be some confusion as to whether I am asking for unfair atom under FOIA, or a letter in response:

I am writing to make an open government request for all the information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if necessary.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that information should not be treated as confidential if such an agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as electronic copies, via WDTK

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

The information required:

Request Title within scope.

This is an extract from your the PHSO Board meeting 28 July 2015...

7.2 Summary of Board discussion:

 Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though

regretted loss runs at 2%.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

:::

Referring to the term used at this meeting about staff leavers, I would like to know:

1. How does the PHSO determine what is a 'regretted loss'?( the 2 percent)

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?

3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

Point 3.
These are two distinct parts of the Request,

Presumably the information requested after the review will supply the answer to the request, which seems to have been omitted from both the response and review.

Yet it is stated that leaving categories exist in HR People and Talent files - which clearly they must, as an unregretted leaver is one of them.

There must also be some HR internal guidance to HR employees as to how to ascribe a leaver to the category to which they belong.

This is also missing from the reply and review.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"This is an extract from your the PHSO Board meeting 28 July 2015...

'7.2 Summary of Board discussion:

'Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though
regretted loss runs at 2%.'"

Here are actual staff resignation numbers:
2014-15: 46
2015-16: 81

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

If the percentage figures were calculated based on the resignations of 46 staff, what would they be based on the resignations of 81 staff!

In one year the number of resignations has jumped by a staggering 76 per cent.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

There is nearly always an employee exodus if two organisations - in this case PHSO and LGO - are to be merged.

Because people don't want the stress of being interviewed for their own posts.

Some figure it's best to jump before they are be pushed. And the more competent will find new jobs more easily.

The PHSO might also relocate move to Manchester - because it will save money and change the culture too.

So the PHSO should have a jump in staff loss with the LGO amalgamation to come, in addition to those fed up with the organisation and it's failing reputation ( see staff survey) , in addition to normal staff loss

:::

But it's the contemptuous way the PHSO refers to its staff as 'non-regretted' leavers.

It's as if the PHSO has defined the majority of its leavers as 'almost useless '- after the management's continuing buttering up of them, stating that they are 'wonderful' , do ' excellent' work etc.

The traditional management - although sometimes insincere - compliments..seemingly hastily reversed when employees leave - and exposing how the PHSO really rates the majority of its' staff.

Here's a recent staff compliment from Mick Martin, for the benefit of staff morale to PACAC.

' Thanks to some terrific work from our staff, we are now handling all the demand for our service, but we have retained some of that work in place for us..'

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

JT Oakley wrote:

"There is nearly always an employee exodus if two organisations - in this case PHSO and LGO - are to be merged.

"Because people don't want the stress of being interviewed for their own posts.

"Some figure it's best to jump before they are be pushed. And the more competent will find new jobs more easily. "

That makes sense. But it is most concerning that 31 per cent of the 49 staff recruited in September 2015 have either left or formally indicated that they are to leave:

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

What would the percentage figure be after one year!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Are they temporaries..with short term contracts?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

They are employees on fixed-term contracts. If the contracts were for six months they would all have finished, unless their contracts were extended. But if the contracts were for at least nine months, then the rate of staff loss remains very high.

'Firstly, I should advise that we have not recruited agency workers to deal with a backlog of complaints but employees on fixed-term contracts.  We did this in September 2015. '

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It used to be if you employed a person full time , with pensions, holidays, rights etc you virtually doubled their salary in expenditure.

If they earned £20k - the actual cost of employing them was around £40k.

It might be cheaper - as a lot of the support - example HR - has gone.

:::

But it's the quality of the temps that is the problem, not the fact that there are any.

I found the person that I had evaluating my complaint couldn't grasp the fact that the PHSO had been publically criticised in Tribunal court (by independent judges) on its service meant anything at all.

It's as if the PHSO has sheer contempt for court verdicts and what Tribunal panels say in their summaries.

For example, No one seemed to pick up the Mick Martin tribunal criticism case.....

If they did, they must of held it in contempt too. Until it was printed in the HSJ.

Logically, if a caseworker is on a temp contract - they dare not find any justification for a complaint against the PHSO- Tribunal public criticism or not.

Or their contract might not be renewed.

:::

Dame Julie Mellor and Mick Martin being quizzed in Janaury 2916 by PACAC:

Q46 Mr Turner: You have reduced the number of full-time equivalent staff at a time when the organisation was under pressure to deal with more cases more quickly. Now you have had to spend £1 million on taking on more temporary staff. Why isn’t your workforce planning more effective?

Mick Martin: Our workforce planning is obviously driven by demand. We opened our doors to our customers. We had an estimate of how much work came in. In the first year of opening our doors, we handled over 2,000 cases; last year we handled over 4,000. What that means is that we recognised in the course of making those changes that, in order to give the best service to our customers, we needed to input some more resources so that we could reduce waiting times and remove any backlogs in our service. We think that was the right thing to do. We have done that by reallocating resources from elsewhere and tightening the areas of the organisation that we need to so that we are putting the right amount of resource in the right places.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Total RESPECT to all FOI enquirers.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248090)

 

In your email of 7 May 2016, you repeated a request made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) in February 2016.

 

On 10 March 2016, I wrote to you to and explained the following:

 

I can confirm that we hold no information relevant to your questions as
phrased.  That is because PHSO does not use official criteria or terms to
describe staff loss, meaning that we hold no information relating to
questions one to three.

Further, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) only entitles a right
to an opinion where that opinion is already recorded.  We do not hold any
such recorded information which would answer questions four and five.

 

This response remains valid.

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

If there are no PHSO terms for categorised staff loss, how was the board - which must of understood the terms (as there was no objection to the use of them), been given the regretted/non-regretted statistics?

Logically the statistics exist - and must be linked to a category of leavers given the 'regretted' and 'non-regretted', or other leavers descriptions.

Since there has been no S 16 'help and advice' as to any of the terms used to describe leavers - other than 'regretted' and 'non-regretted' in publically accessible documents, I would add that I cannot possibly be expected to know how to request specific leavers terms held as data in PHSO records.

And if the terms exist in PHSO files - before the statistics were put before the board, it does not matter whether they are 'official' ( as the request has then been narrowed ) or 'non-official'.

If leavers terms exist in PHSO files, then the data should be available under FOIA.

If they didn't - then the statistics must have been made up on the spot and the board has been misinformed.

:::

In addition, I find it hard to believe that the PHSO's HR department has no way of categorising its leavers. Normally HR departments categorise leavers by retirement, redundancy etc

Indeed deputy Ombudsman Mick Martin clearly understood the term 'redundancy' in his evidence to PACAC.

' Q96 Mrs Gillan: Are you anticipating any redundancies, because I was looking at your final package as well, which has gone down?

Mick Martin: As the organisation starts delivering productivity savings, once we start reducing the size of our corporate overhead, there will be the need to have less staff. Obviously, one of the things we have to do in a very different way, which I think we were talking about before, is to engage with our employees in that conversation and work through with them how we go from the organisation size that we have today to a different organisation size in the future. Yes, I do envisage that we will need to have less staff. How we go about doing that and the pace we do it is something that we need to work through very clearly with them'.

Thus surely any proficient HR department would want to monitor why employees are leaving - especially at the PHSO's continuing high rate high rate - if it had concerns that the leavers' rate was too high.

It would therefore logically seem that the PHSO has absolutely no interest in retaining its employees - by monitoring how it is failing those who make up the consistently high rate of PHSO leavers.

:::::

Referred to the ICO on the grounds that the PHSO cannot have it two ways.

Either it has data on the terms used to categorise leavers ( unofficial or otherwise) which it enabled the statistical statement made to the board.

Or it did not - in which case the board was deliberately misinformed.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Complaint to the ICO :

2. Your relationship with the organisation
     
Member of the public
3. What is your concern?

The PHSO has not reviewed this part of my request.
3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

If the term used as a shorthand description for other terms, and since the request is about definitions of categories of leavers, what are the definitive terms used for leavers by this department, or any other?

Surely there must be a form to be filled in when an employee leaves?

And changed my request from of the publically available source - it's board meeting, which should be logically 'official', to a 'non official' category, which I cannot be expected to fathom from the public information available.

S16 help and advice should apply - if the board meeting is not considered to be 'official' in categorising leavers.

:::

And...

If there are no PHSO terms for categorised staff loss, how was the board - which must of understood the terms (as there was no objection to the use of them), been given the regretted/non-regretted statistics?

Logically the statistics exist - and must be linked to a category of leavers given the 'regretted' and 'non-regretted', or other leavers descriptions.

Section 16
'Regretted staff loss' - How are staff leavers terms defined?

NB the term is used in quotes.

Since there has been no S 16 'help and advice' as to any of the terms used to describe leavers - other than 'regretted' and 'non-regretted' in publically accessible documents, I would add that I cannot possibly be expected to know how to request specific leavers terms as held as data in PHSO records. The request simply does not confine itself to this specific term. It is given as the initial example.

And if any leavers terms exist in PHSO files - before the statistics were put before the board, it does not matter whether they are 'official' ( as the request has then been peculiarly narrowed ) or 'non-official'.

If any leavers categorised terms exist in PHSO files, then the data should be available under FOIA.

If they didn't - then the statistics must have been made up on the spot and the board has been misinformed.

:::

In addition, I find it hard to believe that the PHSO's HR department has no way of categorising its leavers. Normally HR departments categorise leavers by retirement, redundancy etc. It must be the only HR department in the country that does not do so.

Indeed deputy Ombudsman Mick Martin clearly understood the term 'redundancy' in his evidence to PACAC.

' Q96 Mrs Gillan: Are you anticipating any redundancies, because I was looking at your final package as well, which has gone down?

Mick Martin: As the organisation starts delivering productivity savings, once we start reducing the size of our corporate overhead, there will be the need to have less staff. Obviously, one of the things we have to do in a very different way, which I think we were talking about before, is to engage with our employees in that conversation and work through with them how we go from the organisation size that we have today to a different organisation size in the future. Yes, I do envisage that we will need to have less staff. How we go about doing that and the pace we do it is something that we need to work through very clearly with them'.

Thus surely any proficient HR department would want to monitor why employees are leaving - especially at the PHSO's continuing high rate high rate - if it had concerns that the leavers' rate was too high.

It would therefore logically seem that the PHSO has absolutely no interest in retaining its employees - by monitoring how it is failing those who make up the consistently high rate of PHSO leavers.

:::::

Referred to the ICO on the grounds that the PHSO cannot have it two ways.

Either it has data on the terms used to categorise leavers ( unofficial or otherwise) which it enabled the statistical statement made to the board.

Or it did not - in which case the board was deliberately misinformed.

Something else. Please give details.
     
Please send us copies of relevant documents that support your concern.

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

4. What have you done to raise your concern with the organisation?
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing how you raised your concern with the organisation.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...
5. What did the organisation say?

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

     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing the organisation’s response to your concern.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...
6. Reference number

FDN-248090)

Please tell us any reference number that the organisation has given you, eg account number, policy number etc.

As above.

I would also like to ask why when a review is questioned, that the originator of the response to the request, Aimee Gasston, replies that her own response is valid.

Surely by the terms of the FOIA, any review should be completed independently?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The point in reminding the Reviewer ( who did not reply) of the omission from his response was to get a response to Point 3

A description of the PHSO leaver's categories. Staff leavers terms defined ( as per request title)

....Rather than drag this request through the already overworked ICO, and possibly to court.

Spending even more than the 'Vanity Vexing' request, which must have cost the taxpayer around £10k, after a similar PHSO response.

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

Dear InformationRights,

Since the original respondee is confirming her own response - which is a tad unusual for the review procedure- could an independent reviewer please consider that the request has not been answered.

If it had, this would mean that the PHSO has the only HR department in the country not ascribing reasons for leaving to those leaving its employ,..retirement, end of contract etc,

And, as explained,

1. If the board accepted the 'non-regretted' term, then either the board is not doing its duty in accepting terms that it does not understand (which. from the response would seem to be the case)

2. Or the board members understand the term, since it is in common usage among themselves.
Therefore it must exist within PHSO files and the response to this request is incorrect,

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@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.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Having refused for many years a request for an independent investigation into the handing of my case, PHSO changed it's mind. The new case worker was Michael Humphries and he worked on exactly the same line as Mr Cook....scoped the case down in the same way.... didn't look at the major points, only the minor ones...and came to the same conclusion!
Mr Humphries, like Mr Cook found nothing wrong, funny that... Even more puzzling, Mr Humphries has resigned....I wonder why?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Brenda ( and anyone else interested.

Here's the gaming:

FOIA requests

1. Asking for clarifications - which, in the request, are perfectly obvious.

These are really ways of prolonging the legal response time - to their advantage.

2. Don't let them 'scope' you down to their the request THEY wish you'd made... and not the one YOU actually made.

:::

NB If you read the above, I've asked for the HR designations for leavers.

Logically, how can I guess what the PHSO's are?

The ONLY information I can read is within the board meeting minutes on ' regretted/non regretted staff' loss.

So that's ALL I know.

But instead if offering me help and advice as to what the descriptions of PHSO leavers are on HR files, the request has been scoped...without agreement .. to the ONLY designation which I have read on public record and therefore the only one that I could give as example as a member of the public.

:::

There is also no Section 16 help and advice as to how I might read the Leaver designations that the PHSO uses.

Since they are likely to be the same as most other public authorities, one might ask..why all the secrecy?

Maybe it's the terms used in public record..the majority of leavers being 'unregretted' and what it says about all the praise the PHSO managers have been lavishing in its employees, that is the real problem.

Because it seems hypocritical.

And that is why I can't get a response to the terms used.

:::

The same goes for complaints.

Do not let the PHSO change your case to one which you haven't asked to be investigated at the 'scoping' stage.

Because if you agree to the PHSO's ' version' of your complaint, the PHSO won't consider it at all - and only investigate its own version, - which is easy for it to close, since it has re-designed your complaint.

The 'scoped' request is then be used to hit its 'case closed' targets.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

This is the sort of leavers forms most organisations have.

It helps them monitor why people are leaving and adjust and inadequacies.

Since the PHSO has denied having a form, or even categories of leavers, the only explanation is that most leavers are not 'regretted' and the PHSO is too arrogant to find out why staff leave in such high numbers.

Perhaps that's why so many leave.

https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/hr/docs/po...

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

The scoping down was of my complaint made about the trusts involved with the (non) care of my son.

I'd really like to know why both Cook and Humphries left! As you say, PHSO don't want to tell us why so many staff leave.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I think it's pretty obvious why they do.

PCS union take vote of “no confidence” in Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman leadership
Members demand meeting with PHSO board to discuss concerns
Whistleblowers have revealed concerns over “toxic environment” at the ombudsman service
Union staff at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have voted “no confidence” in the organisation’s leadership, HSJ has been told.
Sources at the PHSO have revealed the staff, angered by developments at the ombudsman over the last year, supported a vote of no confidence on 15 March. They are now demanding a meeting with the PHSO board.
Dame Julie Mellor
Union members have demanded a meeting with the PHSO board
It is the latest in a series of damaging revelations about the PHSO in recent weeks, after the deputy ombudsman took leave of absence and ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor faced calls to resign.
The no confidence vote was held by the branch executive committee of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents approximately 180 members of staff at the ombudsman.
HSJ understands the union motion said: “In light of what has taken place over the past year, the [branch executive committee] on behalf of members, moves a vote of no confidence in the PHSO leadership and its ability to implement the changes required by the organisation while maintaining a quality service.
“The [branch executive committee] are instructed to write to the PHSO leadership setting out members’ support for this motion and requesting urgent action to address the points laid out in the motion summary.”
In 2014 the union told MPs on the Commons public administration committee that its members welcomed the plan to increase investigations but raised concerns about how that would be achieved in light of “a reduced budget, decreasing staff numbers, and the hugely increased workload”.
PCS feared there would be a backlog in investigations. By autumn 2015 there was a backlog of 1,500 cases, with the PHSO employing 40 temporary staff to clear it by June.
News of the vote of no confidence comes after whistleblowers this week criticised the “toxic environment” at the PHSO.
A PHSO spokeswoman told HSJ it recognised its staff were facing an “unsettling time” and pledged to listen to their concerns.
She added: “Our people are our greatest asset and we are committed to rebuilding the trust in the executive team and providing strong leadership and direction as we continue our journey to modernise the service.
“Our focus remains on providing a high quality service for people who need our help and to support our staff in the important work they do every day.”

Health Service Journal

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Since the request has gone to the ICO, it will be interesting to read the result of the argument that the PHSO has no definitions for leavers at all.

I am left wondering how it manages anyone entitled to a pension, or anyone who is dismissed...in case of a subsequent employment tribunal.

Surely both are legal requirements?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

It does seem very strange that figures can be attributed to "regretted staff loss" but no information is available on the categories that comprise staff loss.

Here is some information on Regretted Employee Turnover:

"The number of leavers, that are included in Regretted Employee Turnover, only includes natural employee turnover (resignations, termination, retirement etc); it does not reflect any redundancies."

http://biz-development.com/HumanResource...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you J Roberts.

It's a common HR description - understood by the PHSO's board members.

I just can't think why the PHSO would be so keen to deny it

What has it got to hide?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though
regretted loss runs at 2%.

So the PHSO's 2 percent regretted loss is 'natural employee turnover' - resignations, termination, retirement etc.

With the 14.4 percent being redundancy? Surely that can't be right.

Can anyone explain? Because the PHSO won't.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Answered my own question:

:::

Not All Employee Turnover Is Bad — Celebrate “Losing The Losers”

http://www.eremedia.com/ere/not-all-empl...

So according to this, the non -regretted leavers are 'losers'.

Employees who underperform.

Or presumably take too long to hit management targets with overly robust investigations.

Since the PHSO's 'losers' are 7x the 'winners' this would indicate that many of its complaint caseworkers must be underperforming - which correlates with what complainants are saying.

No wonder the PHSO didn't want to admit the term.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

FDN-257287

 

Dear JT Oakley,

 

I write in response to your email of 4 May 2016 in which you replied to
Steve Brown’s internal review of a previous information request (our
reference: FDN-248090) and asked for further information held by the
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). 

 

You asked to see “leavers forms” between February and April 2016 and a
copy of a blank “leavers form”.

 

I have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA) and in line with section 1 (1) (a) I can confirm that we do not
hold “leavers forms”. When a member of staff decides to leave PHSO,
resignations can be made in the form of a letter or email. There is no set
pro forma like the form you have requested.

 

You mention the phrase ‘unregretted leaver’. As my colleague, Aimee
Gasston, explained in her responses dated 10 March and 24 May 2016 (our
reference FDN-248090) we do not hold any recorded information explaining
the use of ‘regretted’ or ‘unregretted leaver’ as PHSO does not use
official criteria or terms to describe staff loss.

 

Mr Brown explained in his response to you dated 4 May 2016 that PHSO
collects information from departing members of staff and this includes the
reason for departure. Please find attached a table detailing the number of
people who left PHSO in February, March and April 2016 and the reasons for
their departure at Annex A.

 

When staff decide to leave the organisation they have the option of
completing an online exit questionnaire which is generated by our HR
system. Please find a screenshot of a blank copy of this attached at Annex
B. Please note that there was an error with the formatting of one word in
question 12a. It should say Associate. You will see that question 13 asks
whether the member of staff wishes to have a meeting with a member of the
Human Resources team to discuss any answers more fully. If they do, during
the face-to-face meeting a different exit interview questionnaire is used
which asks more detailed questions and allows for a more personalised
response from the departing staff member. Please find a copy of this
document attached at Annex C.

 

As you will see from the introduction page at Annex C the questionnaire is
an opportunity for the departing member of staff to reflect personally on
their time at PHSO and as such the information contained in them
constitutes their personal data. Therefore the filled out questionnaires
constitute their personal data and are exempt from disclosure under
section 40(2) FOIA.

 

I hope you find the information useful. If you are unhappy with the
decision I have made or the way in which I have handled your information
request you can ask for an internal review of my decision by emailing
[1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

Yours sincerely,

Rebyn Buleti

FOI/DP Officer

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you.

But your response still seems to state that the statistical infornation given at the board meeting....

'Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though regretted loss runs at 2%'.

....was not researched by any PHSO employee - but was made up on the spot.

If you are not claiming this, then logically someone had to provide the data to the board, which makes it data held on file - and which has not been provided in response, since some further information might be obtained, as requested.

::::

I would further remind you of the request:

'Referring to the term used at this meeting about staff leavers, I would like to know:
1. How does the PHSO determine what is a 'regretted loss'?( the 2 percent)

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?

2. How does the PHSO determine a 'non-regretted' loss? ( the 14.4 percent)

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe?'

::::

Addionally, I was unaware that the FoiAct distinguishes between 'official' and 'non-official' data- the two categories introduced in the response by Ms Gasston.

And that, as far as I know, the terms 'official data' and 'unofficial data' are not mentioned, or defined within the FoiAct. So I had assumed that a FOIA request Is for data held on PHSO files.

In addition, presumably any data given to the board would be 'official'.

Or is the PHSO board only given 'unofficial' information?

But Ms Gasston states that ' Unofficial data' is her reasoning for any data held on file to remain undisclosed -without giving an explanation of why it might be.

Please therefore refer me to the appropriate Section in the FoiAct - defining these two terms - as reasoning for disclosure, or non-disclosure, of data held on file.

::::

This is Point 3.

3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

I did not requests 'further information' as you state.

I asked that Point 3 to receive a response, as it was seemingly overlooked in both Ms Gasston's response and then Mr Brown's review.

My response to Mr Brown was to helpfully direct him to the unanswered Point 3......as I has assumed that it was highly unusual for any organisation not to ascribe ANY terms to its leavers.

Therefore, Aas I have some former knowledge of employee leaver's forms and the systems involved, I gave both Mr Brown and Ms Gasston some 'help and assistance' by trying to clarify to Ms Gasston as to where she might find the data - which would enable them to respond to the seemingly overlooked Point 3.

In addition, research on the Internet has shown that's the terms 'unregretted' and 'regretted' now seem to be becoming common within UK HR departments,with consequent reasoning for their use.

Can you therefore confirm once again that these two terms are not data - and are not on any other PHSO files, than in the data of the board meeting described in the request?

You will be aware of the legal requirements within the FoiAct and the personal responsibility involved in providing a robust and sound response.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@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.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Annex A

25 staff left during a particular three- month period.

18 of the staff left for reasons other than that their contracts had come to an end: dismissal, resignation etc. That's 72%, which seems quite high.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Average staff loss is 5 percent.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The point is to ask how the PHSO defines its leavers.

I am NOT asking how the leavers self define their reasons for leaving, as clearly this would not correlate with the overall stats given in the board meeting.

I do not wish to know leavers' reasoning for leaving..that's an entirely different request.

To which the PHSO seems keen to divert my request.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Jt Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-259376)

 

I write in response to your information request of 2 June 2016 in which
you requested the following information:

 

1. How does the PHSO determine what is a 'regretted loss'?( the 2 percent)
What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?

2. How does the PHSO determine a 'non-regretted' loss? ( the 14.4 percent)
What criteria and terms are used to ascribe?'

3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

I have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA) and can confirm that we do hold some of the information you have
requested.

 

We have previously provided you with a response to questions one to three
and we explained that we do not hold any recorded information to answer
these questions.

 

However, we have since been advised that PHSO does have categories that
they use when staff leave the office.  I would like to apologise that this
information was not provided to you earlier.  We will be carrying out a
further internal review into this matter to find out why this information
was not provided to you when it was first requested.

 

Please find a list of the categories to describe the reason staff left
PHSO attached at Annex A. The list is not exhaustive and may be added to
if necessary.  As you will see, it does not contain the terms ‘regretted’
or ‘unregretted’.

 

I hope you find this information useful. If you are unhappy with the way I
have handled your information request or my decision you may ask for an
internal review by emailing [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email].
                           

 

Yours sincerely

 

Rebyn Buleti

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [2][email address]

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

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you - at last - for responding the terms of this simple request .

I presume the ICO must have been in contact with the PHSO, since I have made a formal complaint - and the PHSO has therefore been forced to respond to this request adequately.

You will have noted the length of this request and the time taken - both in terms of paid PHSO staff time and my wasted time and attention in re-stating it the request, with clarifications and information.

However, you state:

'However, we have since been advised that PHSO does have categories that they use when staff leave the office. I would like to apologise that this information was not provided to you earlier.

We will be carrying out a further internal review into this matter to find out why this information was not provided to you when it was first requested'

:::::
Thank you.

But I cannot accept your apology yet.

Perhaps I may assist in your investigation as to why this request received the clearly neglectful response that it did.

-----

I note that the original response and second decision was made by Aimee Gasston, who somewhat unsurprisingly went on to declare that she was perfectly correct to have done so.

I would like to point out to the PHSO that therefore it is still allowing employees to 'mark their own homework'.

Something of a failure - as described by the external investigator who upheld my initial complaint and that it was a 'sub-standard' practice do so.

With criticism of the head of review...And Dame Julie Mellor's apology.

This is the substance of his criticism why the PHSO should not continue to have its officers deem their work correct....without any proper evaluation:

'The review team failed to provide Mrs TO with a reasonable or acceptable level of service. The service actually provided was, in my view, well below the level you would consider adequate. Some of the decisions at particular points were unreasonable; there was a failure to co ordinate the review team's work with the efforts being made by the FoI team; and the review team seems to have become 'locked' into a negative bureaucratic process, which it treated as unalterable, of refusing to consider the points made for review'.

The response to,this request seems to me to be a replication if this previously upheld complaint,

Yet another 'unreasonable case' and yet another 'failure to respond adequately'.

:::

In addition, independent Review officer Steve Brown didn't seem to be replying to the request terms above.

Surely an officer in his position would have realised that EVERY public authority defines its leavers?

How would anyone claim a pension if they did not do so?

I would therefore like to ask:

1. Was this because he was never sent the whole request to 'independently' investigate?

Either deliberately, or accidentally?

2. Or decided to rubber stamp yet another pre-written offering from the PHSO FOIA team.

Previously he has not seemingly bothered to go through the necessary procedure of checking the PHSO's files - as he is tasked to do via his job description and to maintain his 'independence' of his office.

Unless, of course, with great speed and accuracy,.....he could do so overnight.

---

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

February 16

Steve

Attatched is the analysis and draft report.

The review shouldn't be upheld.

Let me know if you need anything more

PHSO FOIA officer.

:::::

DRAFT REPORT

Dear Mrs TO

Re : Your information request - Contracts over £50,000

I write in response to your request for a review received on 19 December 2014.

Given your concerns, I have looked again at your request to see whether we handled it correctly and the responses we provided were appropriate.

When we responded to you, we understood that you were seeking a list of contracts worth over 50k from 1 November 2013. In addition we concluded that you were also asking for the information held in relation to procurement end management of those contracts

However I can see from your request for review that there may have been some confusion about what information we said engaged S12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Understandably you are now concerned that we have not provided you with a complete list of the contract you asked for. I can confirm though that the list we gave you was complete. No exemption applied to the list of contracts itself.

The confusion seems to have arisen because we also said that s12 FOIA applied to the additional information which we understood you to be asking for i.e.'copies of material which you hold in the form of paper end electronic records including emails relating to the contracts'. You now indicate that you were not asking for the procurement end management information relating to the contracts, only a list of contracts.

Overall then, I am sorry for any confusion our response caused you and I am glad to be able to assure you that you have been provided with the information you were seeking.

That concludes my review of this matter. If you consider that I have not dealt with your information request properly you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioner he can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

-----

After overnight consideration fully exploring the relevant files, Mr Brown responds with his independent evaluation:

THE INDEPENDENT, FULLY EVALUATED REVIEW RESPONSE:

17 February 2015

Dear Mrs TO

Re : Your information request - Contracts over £50,000

I write in response to your request for a review received on 19 December 2014.

Given your concerns, I have looked again at your request to see whether we handled it correctly and the responses we provided were appropriate.

When we responded to you, we understood that you were seeking a list of contracts worth over 50k from 1 November 2013. In addition we concluded that you were also asking for the information held in relation to procurement end management of those contracts

However I can see from your request for review that there may have been some confusion about what information we said engaged S12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Understandably you are now concerned that we have not provided you with a complete list of the contract you asked for. I can confirm though that the list we gave you was complete. No exemption applied to the list of contracts itself.

The confusion seems to have arisen because we also said that s12 FOIA applied to the additional information which we understood you to be asking for i.e.'copies of material which you hold in the form of paper end electronic records including emails relating to the contracts'. You now indicate that you were not asking for the procurement end management information relating to the contracts, only a list of contracts.

Overall then, I am sorry for any confusion our response caused you and I am glad to be able to assure you that you have been provided with the information you were seeking.

That concludes my review of this matter. If you consider that I have not dealt with your information request properly you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioner he can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely
Steve Brown
Head of Risk and Assurance

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

::::

The review procedure for FOIA enquiries -which spells out how reviews must be accomplished:

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

::::

In addition:.

Since I have already been forced into court by what I consider to be an entirely unnecessary 'Vanity Vexing' on the above previous request- the vexing which was instigated by Aimee Gasston.

( NB My case upheld and the PHSO was were criticised by the court in its handling of it).

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

I would therefore prefer not to receive any more inadequate or unnecessarily prolonged responses from this officer.

And certainly not have her assess her own work - on any request I make to the PHSO.

Unfortunately, due to the wrongful vexation and including the time and inconvenience taken to overturn it - despite an offer from me just to retract the vexation - plus other responses to requests, I have formed the impression that personal element has entered into her responses - instead of assuming a requester-blind position, as the FOIA requires.

:::

Therefore please allow ANY other officer to respond to any of my FOIA requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@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.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Possibly concerned that if the categories were revealed some embarrassing figures to fill the categories might subsequently be requested.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Mmmm, caught bang to rights again. Well done JT Oakley. We still don't know why only some staff losses are 'regretted though. Any ideas?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

http://www.eremedia.com/ere/not-all-empl...

Yes it's above... where I seem to be posting as Brenda Prentice for some strange reason.

Hello Brenda.

Basically they are saying that only 2 percent of the leavers were worthwhile-to-have employees.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

PHSO Says :::

Integrity
We are open, honest and straightforward in all our dealings, and use time, money and resources effectively:

We are consistent and transparent in our actions and decisions;

We take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable for all that we do;

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

SHOCKING!

This FOI demonstrates the effort that the Ombudsman's staff are willing to go to in order to hoodwink the public.

Open & blatant malfeasance?!

It took over 50 contributions from J T Oakley and supporters in order to progress ONE Freedom Of Information request.

Thank you for having the brains, health and tenacity to hang on in there J T Oakley. Well done to your supporters too!

Thank you to the volunteers at this website too - without this forum there would be NO scrutiny of the PHSO at all.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Another day, another botch up..

PHSO's response to my ICO complaint :

Response of 30 June 2016 (FDN-259376)

We responded to questions put to us by [name removed] on 2 June 2016. The request asked once more for data about the criteria ‘regretted’ and ‘unregretted’ in relation to staff loss. It also asked whether any further categories were used by PHSO to describe staff leavers.

On seeking advice from PHSO’s HR Team, the FOI/DP Team was provided with a list of categories used to describe staff who have left the organisation (attached). As you will see, this does not include the terms ‘regretted’ or ‘unregretted’. At this point, though, it became clear that we had not fully complied with the request put to us in February about what other terminology was used by PHSO to describe staff leavers.

Our response apologised for this mistake and advised that we would be looking into what went wrong. As I was involved with the handling of the request myself, we decided that it would not be appropriate for me to be part of this review and, as such, my colleague (Assistant Legal Adviser) will be looking into this matter independently.

Conclusion and action to take

Although PHSO has not yet completed its review of what went wrong in this matter, I have spoken to HR staff involved in providing the FOI/DP Team with information in relation to these requests. It seems to be a simple case of human error, where the ‘regretted’ and ‘unregretted’ terminology was focused on at the expense of the simpler part of the request which asked more generally about terms used.

I am satisfied that PHSO does not hold any information which underpins the statement made by the then Director of HR about regretted loss - PHSO’s electronic documents management system yields no relevant results in relation to this term.

In not providing Jt Oakley with information about categories used to describe staff who leave PHSO at the outset, we failed to comply fully with her original request. I would like to apologise to Jtoakley for this. We will be in contact with her once our independent review has concluded.

Yours sincerely

Acting Head of Freedom of Information/Data Protection
PHSO

::::

This is the latest in a line of sloppy responses from the PHSO.

I think I must be around the 12-apology mark from the PHSO - as a whole.

:::

And no, I'm NOT accepting this one.

The PHSO must demonstrate that it us responding to FOIA requests by complying with the Act.

It means:

1. Bothering to read the request.

2. Not sending PR drafted letters - instead of data on file

Simply because to respond accurately under FOIA would be embarrassing.

3. And worst of all, gaming requests.

Rewriting requests to one the PHSO had WISHED you made- instead of the one that you made.

When the PHSO demonstrates that it has adopted the core t criteria, then I'll accept the apology,

That would be in the nature of a proper apology.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Another day, another botch up..

PHSO's response to my ICO complaint :

Response of 30 June 2016 (FDN-259376)

We responded to questions put to us by [name removed] on 2 June 2016. The request asked once more for data about the criteria ‘regretted’ and ‘unregretted’ in relation to staff loss. It also asked whether any further categories were used by PHSO to describe staff leavers.

On seeking advice from PHSO’s HR Team, the FOI/DP Team was provided with a list of categories used to describe staff who have left the organisation (attached). As you will see, this does not include the terms ‘regretted’ or ‘unregretted’. At this point, though, it became clear that we had not fully complied with the request put to us in February about what other terminology was used by PHSO to describe staff leavers.

Our response apologised for this mistake and advised that we would be looking into what went wrong. As I was involved with the handling of the request myself, we decided that it would not be appropriate for me to be part of this review and, as such, my colleague (Assistant Legal Adviser) will be looking into this matter independently.

Conclusion and action to take

Although PHSO has not yet completed its review of what went wrong in this matter, I have spoken to HR staff involved in providing the FOI/DP Team with information in relation to these requests. It seems to be a simple case of human error, where the ‘regretted’ and ‘unregretted’ terminology was focused on at the expense of the simpler part of the request which asked more generally about terms used.

I am satisfied that PHSO does not hold any information which underpins the statement made by the then Director of HR about regretted loss - PHSO’s electronic documents management system yields no relevant results in relation to this term.

In not providing Jt Oakley with information about categories used to describe staff who leave PHSO at the outset, we failed to comply fully with her original request. I would like to apologise to Jtoakley for this. We will be in contact with her once our independent review has concluded.

Yours sincerely

Acting Head of Freedom of Information/Data Protection
PHSO

::::

This is the latest in a line of sloppy responses from the PHSO.

I think I must be around the 12-apology mark from the PHSO - as a whole.

:::

And no, I'm NOT accepting this one.

The PHSO must demonstrate that it us responding to FOIA requests by complying with the Act.

It means:

1. Bothering to read the request.

2. Not sending PR drafted letters - instead of data on file

Simply because to respond accurately under FOIA would be embarrassing.

3. And worst of all, gaming requests.

Rewriting requests to one the PHSO had WISHED you made- instead of the one that you made.

When the PHSO demonstrates that it has adopted the correct criteria, then I'll accept the apology,

That would be in the nature of a proper apology.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@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.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

The core element which has been lost in this long and winding path of denial and deceit is how did the board determine that regretted staff loss ran at 2% if this has not been calculated from stored data?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

As stated by the PHSO they are carrying out a review into this request. I would like to know how and who is reviewing this "error" made by the PHSO for this request. As you have all noted - it's not the first time. I recall my own request a while back for information regarding DJM involvement in complaints. It took several requests to finally get a truthful answer out of Aimee. JT Oakley, I would expect a full and transparent explanation of their review into this matter as part of their apology. One would hope that another FOI request is not required to get the results of the internal review.

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Hello J T Oakley,

RE: Your comment 28th July 2016
Yes, you are spot on J T Oakley!

I love it how you bring insight to the way that PHSO and the ICO seem to have little regard, respect or will to co-operate with the service user's basic request for clarity.

So few of those elected to best review the operations at the Ombudsman seem to conduct a fit for purpose review of the shenanigans and repeated cycle of maladministration at the PHSO.

Bravo J T Oakley. A people's HERO!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you - but it's the above is a continuation of a demonstration that PHSO employees do not read FOIA requests - or complaints - properly.

And then,..when you point out where they went wrong , instead if thinking about your response (or checking it) , you are just dismissed.

So it's carelessness - backed by arrogance - which is at the heart of the PHSO.

:::

The same lack of comprehension happened with a previous request to which Ms Gasston responded. She also vexed it -which meant I had to undertake hours of work and go to court to have the wrongful vexed request overturned.

It wasn't just that..The strategies used to cover up the basic mistake were appalling.

1. Legally required documents were withheld from me.
2. The ICO was told my complaint was against them ( not relevant to the request)
3. The ICO caseworker was told that she had 'no remit to investigate my evidence' for the complaint, when she 'seemed to believe' me. The caseworker was right, but stopped by this statement
4. In addition, the number of WDTK requests I had made was doubled - to make me look vexatious and therefore my request must be too.

All these dubious strategies failed in court - which is where the evidence has to be produced.

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

NB The PHSO's handling of the complaint was criticised. But then the PHSO doesn't accept Tribunal verdicts - as deputy ombudsman Mick Martin would have presumably remained in office had not the Health Service Journal outed a Tribunal Verdict criticising him.

:::

The PHSO would not accept my service complaint based on the Tribunal criticism because I'd won in court ..but part of my service complaint was about the strategies used to stop me getting a fair hearing -which I only read in my SAR - after the judgement, as the ICO gave me the messages between the PHSO and the ICO.

:::

I'll complain again, because the work taking poorly conducted responses to requests to the ICO is considerate.

I've once again had to spend totally unnecessary time on yet another request, which if Ms Gaston couldn't be bothered to read it, should have been picked up at the review stage. She is, after all, paid to read the entire request.

In addition, my opinion, the relationship between the FOIA team and reviewer is not independent enough, with the reviewer sometimes rubber- stamping what the FOIA person who responded to the request states.
(previous evidence from my SAR).

::

But you already know the outcome... I've had an apology,(which I've refused to accept, since it's just a continuation of the same old pattern of not reading information )....so I haven't got a case, even though there is a provable pattern of ignoring parts of a request, causing so much extra time and effort to the public,

And everything the FOIA department does is exemplary.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Our references: FDN‑248090, FDN-257287 and FDN‑259376

 

By email only

J T Oakley

 

 

23 August 2016

 

 

Dear J T Oakley,

 

I am writing further to the PHSO to ICO email dated 28 July 2016
(FDN-257287), to which you were copied. In that email the PHSO explained
that I would be undertaking a review.

 

I will provide a summary background of your requests and our responses
that are of particular relevance to this review. I will then explain the
outcome of my review.

 

Brief summary background: your request dated 13 February 2016

 

In February 2016 we received an information request from you entitled
"Regretted staff loss". In that request you sought information in respect
of the following matters:

 

1. How does the PHSO determine what is a "regretted loss"?...

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe it?

2. How does the PHSO determine a "non‑regretted" loss?...

What criteria and terms are used to ascribe?

3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?

4. I see that Dame Julie Mellor and CEO Mick Martin is at pains to
congratulate PHSO staff in the Annual report.

Therefore why is it the case that the regretted losses are so low (7‑1) in
comparison to the non‑regretted losses?

5. Was departing director of finance Mike Procter a "regretted", or
"non‑regretted" loss, after the PHSO found out that it had overspent its
government awarded budget?

 

In response to this request we consulted our HR department and following
that consultation we wrote to you on 10 March 2016 to say that we held no
information relevant to the request as phrased.

 

Following your request for a review we spoke to our HR department again
and remained satisfied that we held no relevant information.

 

Your information request dated 2 June 2016

 

In this request you asked once more for data about the criteria
"regretted" and "unregretted" in relation to staff loss. In making this
request you explained:

"This is Point 3.
3. Are there any more categories used to describe leavers?"

 

In considering this request we again consulted our HR department and we
remained satisfied that we held no recorded information falling within the
scope of your request regarding either the terms "regretted" or
"unregretted" in relation to staff who have left our organisation.

 

However having considered "point 3" further we concluded that we did in
fact hold information that fell within the scope of this request. In
particular the PHSO maintains a list of categories used to describe staff
who have left the organisation which we considered fell within the scope
of the request as we now understood it to be. Accordingly we supplied you
with this information on 30 June 2016 and at our own initiative set up a
review to look at why this information was not provided earlier.

 

Review:

 

In reviewing these matters I have looked over the relevant files relating
to your requests. I have also spoken to staff in the HR department. As
explained in the PHSO’s email to ICO dated 28 July 2016, the purpose of my
review has been to understand the discrepancy between our responses of 13
February and 2 June 2016. Having reviewed this matter and spoken to
colleagues in HR I can confirm that the HR staff who considered your 13
February 2016 information request interpreted that request as being
specifically around "regretted" and "unregretted" staff loss rather than
being about reasons for staff leaving more generally. The staff in HR tell
me they now see how your original request could have been interpreted more
widely.

 

Having seen your 2 June correspondence it became clearer that your request
covered wider leaving reasons rather than being more specifically about
"regretted" and "unregretted" staff leavers.

 

In the circumstances I consider your complaint in respect of our handling
of your request dated 13 February 2016 can be partly upheld in respect of
"point 3".

 

In the PHSO's email of 30 June 2016, we supplied you with the information
we hold that falls within the scope of that request clarification dated 2
June 2016.

 

That concludes my review of this matter. If you consider that I have not
dealt with your information request properly you can raise the matter with
the Information Commissioner. She can be contacted at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5A

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Mark Lant

Assistant Legal Adviser

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316247 email]]
Sent: 30 June 2016 16:31
To: InformationRights
Subject: RE: Your information request FDN-259376

 

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you - at last - for responding the terms of this simple request .

I presume the ICO must have been in contact with the PHSO, since I have
made a formal complaint - and the PHSO has therefore been forced to
respond to this request adequately.

You will have noted the length of this request and the time taken - both
in terms of paid PHSO staff time  and my wasted time and attention in
re-stating it the request, with clarifications and information.

However, you state:

'However, we have since been advised that PHSO does have categories that
they use when staff leave the office.  I would like to apologise that this
information was not provided to you earlier.

We will be carrying out a further internal review into this matter to find
out why this information was not provided to you when it was first
requested'

:::::
Thank you.

But I cannot accept your apology yet.

Perhaps I may assist in your investigation as to why this request received
the clearly neglectful response that it did.

-----

I note that the original response and second decision  was made by Aimee
Gasston, who somewhat unsurprisingly  went on to declare that she was
perfectly  correct to have done so.

I would like to point out to the PHSO that therefore it is still allowing
employees to 'mark their own homework'.

Something of a failure - as described by the external investigator who
upheld my initial complaint and that it was a 'sub-standard' practice do
so. 

With criticism of the head of review...And Dame Julie Mellor's apology.

This is the substance of his criticism why the PHSO should not continue to
have its officers deem their work correct....without any proper
evaluation:

'The review team failed to provide Mrs TO with a reasonable or acceptable
level of service. The service actually provided was, in my view, well
below the level  you would consider adequate. Some of  the decisions at
particular points were unreasonable; there was a failure to co ordinate
the review team's work with the efforts being made by the FoI team; and
the review team seems to have become 'locked' into a negative bureaucratic
process,  which it treated as unalterable, of refusing to consider the
points made for review'.

The response to this request seems to me to be a replication if this
previously  upheld complaint,

Yet another 'unreasonable case'  and yet another 'failure to respond
adequately'.

:::

In addition, independent Review officer Steve Brown didn't seem to be
replying to the request terms above.

Surely an officer in his position would have realised that EVERY public
authority defines its leavers?

How would anyone claim a pension if they did not do so?

I would therefore like to ask:

1.  Was this because he was never sent  the whole request to
'independently' investigate?

Either deliberately,  or accidentally?

2. Or decided to rubber stamp yet another pre-written offering from the
PHSO FOIA team.

Previously he has not seemingly bothered  to go through the necessary
procedure of checking the PHSO's files -  as he is tasked to do via his
job description and to maintain his 'independence' of his office.

Unless, of course, with great speed and accuracy,.....he could do so
overnight.

---

[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

February 16

Steve

Attached is the analysis and draft report.

The review shouldn't be upheld.

Let me know if you need anything more

PHSO FOIA officer.

:::::

DRAFT REPORT

Dear Mrs TO

Re : Your information request - Contracts over 50,000

I write in response to your request for a review received on 19 December
2014.

Given your concerns, I have looked again at your request to see whether we
handled it correctly and the responses we provided were appropriate.

When we responded to you, we understood that you were seeking a list of
contracts worth over 50k from 1 November 2013. In addition we concluded
that you were also asking for the information held in relation to
procurement end management of those contracts

However I can see from your request for review that there may have been
some confusion about what information we said engaged S12 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. Understandably you are now concerned that we have
not provided you with a complete list of the contract you asked for. I can
confirm though that the list we gave you was complete. No exemption
applied to the list of contracts itself.

The confusion seems to have arisen because we also said that s12 FOIA
applied to the additional information which we understood you to be asking
for i.e. 'copies of material which you hold in the form of paper end
electronic records including emails relating to the contracts'. You now
indicate that you were not asking for the procurement end management
information relating to the contracts, only a list of contracts.

Overall then, I am sorry for any confusion our response caused you and I
am glad to be able to assure you that you have been provided with the
information you were seeking.

That concludes my review of this matter. If you consider that I have not
dealt with your information request properly you can raise the matter with
the Information Commissioner he can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

-----

After overnight consideration fully exploring the relevant files, Mr Brown
responds with his independent evaluation:

THE INDEPENDENT, FULLY EVALUATED REVIEW RESPONSE:

17 February 2015

Dear Mrs TO

Re : Your information request - Contracts over 50,000

I write in response to your request for a review received on 19 December
2014.

Given your concerns, I have looked again at your request to see whether we
handled it correctly and the responses we provided were appropriate.

When we responded to you, we understood that you were seeking a list of
contracts worth over 50k from 1 November 2013. In addition we concluded
that you were also asking for the information held in relation to
procurement end management of those contracts

However I can see from your request for review that there may have been
some confusion about what information we said engaged S12 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. Understandably you are now concerned that we have
not provided you with a complete list of the contract you asked for. I can
confirm though that the list we gave you was complete. No exemption
applied to the list of contracts itself.

The confusion seems to have arisen because we also said that s12 FOIA
applied to the additional information which we understood you to be asking
for i.e. 'copies of material which you hold in the form of paper end
electronic records including emails relating to the contracts'. You now
indicate that you were not asking for the procurement end management
information relating to the contracts, only a list of contracts.

Overall then, I am sorry for any confusion our response caused you and I
am glad to be able to assure you that you have been provided with the
information you were seeking.

That concludes my review of this matter. If you consider that I have not
dealt with your information request properly you can raise the matter with
the Information Commissioner he can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely
Steve Brown
Head of Risk and Assurance

[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

::::

The review procedure for FOIA enquiries -which spells out how reviews must
be accomplished:

[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

::::

In addition:.

Since I have already been forced into court by what I consider to be an
entirely unnecessary 'Vanity Vexing'  on the above previous request-  the
vexing which was instigated by Aimee Gasston.

( NB My case upheld and the PHSO was were criticised by the court in its
handling of it).

[4]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

I would therefore prefer not to receive any more inadequate or
unnecessarily  prolonged responses from this officer.

And certainly not have her assess her own work - on any request I make to
the PHSO.

Unfortunately, due to the wrongful vexation and including the time and
inconvenience taken to overturn it - despite an offer from me just to
retract the vexation - plus other responses to requests, I have formed the
impression that personal element has entered into her responses -  instead
of assuming a requester-blind position, as the FOIA requires.

:::

Therefore please allow ANY other officer to respond to any of my  FOIA
requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Even if the PHSO staff can't be bothered to read complaints ( which can be complicated) you would think the FOIA manager ould get round to reading the request- when it's pointed out exactiy what's been overlooked.its such a basic part of the work.

Comprehension of requests is a continuing problem.

And 're-defining ' public requests -to a request which the PHSO FOIA team thinks that you should be ALLOWED to request.

navartne left an annotation ()

Jt Oakley,

> Rewriting requests to one the PHSO had WISHED you made- instead of the one that you made.

very true.

By the way, ICO decisions website [1] has just a few upheld decisions against PHSO. there's just two section (1) upheld decisions:

1) fs_50389485 - https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Actually, for the above, although the ICO website says section 1 upheld, looks like only section 10 was upheld.

2) fs_50582089 - https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

The one above was to do with section (1)(1)(a) - Failing to respond.

[1] - https://search.ico.org.uk/ico/search/dec...

navartne left an annotation ()

Okay, about decision fs_50389485. Here's the screenshot of the ICO decisions webpage (saying section 1 upheld):

https://dl.orangedox.com/3gf0z4tqrjJACv2...

And the relavant bit from the decision notice [1]:

"19. The Commissioner therefore finds that whilst the PHSO provided the information it held within the scope of the request, it failed to comply with section 10(1) of the FOIA as it did not provide the complainant with that information within 20 working days."

Clearly, section 1 wasn't upheld.

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you navartne.

That adds to the long catalogue iof times that the PHSO has denied having information,,
when - in fact -it is difficult to operate an organisation , without having possession of the information requested.

A lot of the fault seems to lie within the FOIA department, especially on this request. The common response seems to arrogantly assume that the request can be redefined into one which the FOIA department WiSHED you had asked - Without any consultation. Then ignore your protestations .

And no, it's not possible to construe that the entire request is about regretted/non regretted staff loss as the scope is 'how are staff leavers terms defined' even though the legal department had seemingly tried very hard to get the FOIA department off the hook in having to make an apology to me,

There it is in the Title

Which is why I add . ' Title within scope' on all requests.

:::

I'd advise all requesters to watch out for the gaming of this request seen above.

navartne left an annotation ()

Seems PHSO is operating in a similar fashion to life on a whaling ship.

By the way, i was only highlighting that the ICO decisions website may be incorrect. So, the scope of my annotation was only that :) Although, the paragraph I quoted may have given the impression that I was referring to 'scope'.

I think to avoid any misunderstands PB's have to be objective in reading a request. More about this is in the ICO guidelines "Interpreting and clarifying requests Freedom of Information Act Environmental Information Regulations" [1]:

"The authority must answer a request based on what the requester has actually asked for, and not on what it thinks they would like, should have asked for or would be of most use to them."

"Sometimes the requester’s correspondence may suggest that other information would be of more use to them. Where this is the case, the authority should offer advice and assistance to help the requester to submit a new request for different information."

"If the authority finds there is more than one objective reading of the request then it must go back to the requester to ask for further clarification. It should not attempt to guess which interpretation is correct."

The problem with dealing with the PHSO seems that, even if you specify everything in detail, it could be interpreted differently. If you rely on information they've provided before and base a subsequent request on that, then there is every likelihood that the request may go off track because the info on the previous reply wasn't clear enough.[2][3][4] i.e. if a PHSO document says employee brackets 'SA1’s and SA3’' are senior staff, and you make a request based on this. Later you may well find that that what was said in that document is not actually so. (I know..it's crazy!). ICO will agree with PHSO. [4]

:::

About 'scope' - whenever PHSO is involved, ICO seems to be using 'within the scope of the request'. Don't fall for it. This is a typical defense mechanism. Basically, PHSO and ICO are colluding.

PHSO is renown for getting the wrong end of the stick, so ICO in order to redeem the PHSO of any such accusation - is using the argument 'the request was dealt with within the scope'. If you argue it wasn't, then you obviously need to take on the ICO. Most people would say, 'Okay the ICO say's it was within the scope. they must be correct'.

Actually, this whole 'within the scope' is a red-herring. All requests are 'within the scope'. What else could it be?. Outside the scope?. little bit inside, a little bit outside?...(how to deal with any ambiguous requests is covered in the ICO guidance "Interpreting and clarifying requests Freedom of Information Act Environmental Information Regulations"[1]. How to give help and assistance, that's also been covered by the guidance document 'Duty to provide advice and assistance (section 16)'. So, it's not as if this is something that's never come-up.

:::

About the subject line/header. I've managed to find your request to Cabinet Office [5], which the ICO [6] ultimately claimed ".. the Commissioner’s view is that the title is immaterial, as this is not part of the request."

I don't agree. Title is very much part of the request. It's like saying the head is not part of the body (yes, I heard when a chicken's head is severed, it flies aimlessly for a few minutes), or consider, the front page of a book. Very much part of the book. Of course, we cannot judge the book by its cover, but very much part of it.

Also, it's highly inconsistent to report in their emails “leave the reference number intact in the subject line" then at the first opportunity say that the header/subject is not part of the body. Actually, slightly uncouth to say this.

::

For anyone making a FOI request for the first time. The only hint I can give is. Write the request first, then once complete, read it over, then come up with the subject/title (actually, the subject/title will then almost write itself). Probably a bad idea to write the title/subject first then the body. before sending, search for the title using your favorite search engine. Why?

1) You may find that the same or similar request has been made on Whatdotheyknow.com. [7]

2) If you find a similar request, you may find part(s) of your request has already been covered. Or you may be able to get important pointers on how to improve/revamp your request. I once actually didn't need to submit a request because I found it had already been made.

The beauty of FOI is that there is no set style. Some FOI jurisdictions (e.g. Australia), who operate in a very legalistic fashion are so stuck-up with the need to quote legal technicalities, unfortunately this makes FOI less accessible to the woman/man on the clapham omnibus.

This is how UK FOI is different. It remains accessible.

[1] - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/3...

[2] - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

[3] - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...
[4] - https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

[5] - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

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

[7] - I think when you start typing the subject Whatdotheyknow.com suggest similar request anyway. So that's another check.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you navartne.

Lots of good information there.

The first thing that the Tribunal court asked me was 'Whete is the S16 help and advice?'

The PHSO in its own inimitable and arrogant way hadn't bothered.

( And the ICO hasn't spotted it. For it was the ICO which was formally defending the PHSO and its own Decision in court )

So Section 16 s now very important. The reason is that government is trying to save every penny, so this has a knock effect on how the Trubunal court looks at gamed requests.....

The cost of a Tribunal must be around £10k -and that taxpayer/government money.

The emphasis is therefore very much on saving this money - by not allowing Public Authorities to avoid giving S16 help and advice. Because if you add in an, the time, salary etc for both the PHSO and ICO it probably comes out nearer £18k.

......Just because an FOIA officer couldn't be bothered to read the request, was too arrogant to apply S16 help and advice and then the Foia department ( including the 'independent reviewer' ,.. who sent emails to my home address ) then tried to cover the total botch up - by telling the ICO it did not have the 'remit' to investigate my evidence.

:::

To make things plain....

I now send a formatted part of any request to state that the title is within remit and that S16 must be applied.

Nb You will note that I've found it necessary to include a reminder to the PHSO employees of their position, with regards to the law and their own in-house instructions based on it , by following requests - and not gaming them by answering a request that they wished you'd made ..... rather than the one you made - by changing the scope, or ignoring the title.

Happy for anyone to copy it ... as it help cut down the work entailed in drawing up a request and hopefully getting the PHSO /or other Public Authority, to apply S16 and provide original documents, not those written after the request - to avoid providing original documents.

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

This is it :

Format

Request Title/summary within scope.



I am writing to make an open government request for all the 
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information 
Act 2000.

Please send me original recorded information, which includes information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a 
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I 
understand that under the Act, you are required, as a duty,  to advise and assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

ICO guidance: 

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...


If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify 
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. 

I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve 
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to 
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please 
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if 
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act. 

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the 
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with 
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that 
information should not be treated as confidential if such an 
agreement has not been signed.

I request that the response  be provided to me as electronic copies, via WDTK. 

The information should be immediately readable - and, as a freedom of Information request,  not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.



I understand that you are required to respond to my request within 
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be 
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received 
this request.

::::::::

Please consider  the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.
https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

50. However, if the requester expresses a preference to inspect the original documents (or copies of those documents) then we would expect the authority to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to view the originals (or copies), where practicable. 

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
Nb This request does not require a letter, drafted by the External Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees - and purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

::


Please note: 
Section 77 FOIA 


77.—(1) Where—
(a) a request for information has been made to a public
authority, and
(b) under section 1 of this Act or section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, the applicant would have been entitled (subject to payment of any fee) to communication of any information in accordance with that section,
any person to whom this subsection applies is guilty of an offence if he alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to the public authority and to any person who is employed by, is an officer of, or is subject to the direction of, the public authority. 

::::

PHSO only

Please note: 

 
4. Staff responsibilities 
4.1 PHSO has a corporate responsibility to identify and respond to requests for information as efficiently as possible, and within the statutory deadlines. It is the responsibility of all PHSO staff to identify and take appropriate action on information requests as soon as they are received. PHSO staff may also be required to assist the FOI/DP Team in locating information and ensuring the accuracy of the final response. 

Page 4 of 8
Policy – PHSO Access to Information Policy v1.0

J Roberts left an annotation ()

JT Oakley,

That's a helpful request template.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thanks J Roberts .

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Jt Oakley,

You wrote this:

"The first thing that the Tribunal court asked me was 'Where is the S16 help and advice?'"

Which might explain why the Commissioner in my case has changed her position on section 16. My case:

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

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

In the Decision Notice:

"25. The Commissioner is satisfied that PHSO complied with section 16 and offered the complainant adequate advice and assistance with regard to his requests."

In the Response to the Appeal Tribunal:

"27. However, having reviewed the matter following receipt of the appeal, the Commissioner considers the decision was incorrect.

"31. In view of the Commissioner's revised position as regards section 16, the Commissioner invites the Tribunal to provide the PHSO with this Response and join it to these proceedings so it may wish to make any representations it wishes to do so on this point.

"32. The Commissioner stands by her findings as regards section 12. The Commissioner invites the Tribunal to vary the DN to record a breach of section 16 FOIA."

It seems your experience at the Tribunal hasn't changed the PHSO's policy on section 16, or the Commissioner's inability to record a breach the section in a Decision Notice. Of course, the PHSO may yet persuade the Tribunal that it has done nothing wrong. The PHSO states on it's website:

"We take our freedom of information responsibilities seriously and welcome the rights of access that the Act sets out."

Some work still to be done, in the belated opinion of the Commissioner.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thanks D Moore

Well that IS interesting ... it seems that there is now scope to the PHSO to apply S16 at a much later part of the process.

But so much for putting aside it's inbuilt legal power arrogance - where the PHSO is in control and tells you its decision.

It cannot adhere to the FOIA and its sections, where the boot is on the other foot in that:

1. the requester sets the SCOPE of the request.
2. and the responder follows the set SCOPE of the request, helpfully aiding the requested towards the response that s/he requires via S16.

Still it looks like the PHSO still assumes it has public money to burn - by avoiding helpfully applying S16 - and was still confident in the knowledge that, at a later stage, the ICO will almost always support it it's neglect of S16.

:::

This is the ICO' decision on your case:

* Section 16 – advice and assistance 

* In its internal review of its response to the requests, PHSO advised the complainant how his requests might be refined so that they might be responded to within the cost and time limit; namely by submitting a smaller number of individual requests.

* ** How can you chose? it doesn't define the scope and doesn't give you( as a member of the public unaware of its internal filing system ) enough information to do so.
Nb Other Public Authorities will suggest possible lines of request, or re- scoped dates to fit the time criteria to fulfill S 16. 


* PHSO has told the Commissioner that it was not possible to provide more precise information on how to best narrow the requests as the granular nature of all the data requested meant there was not one obvious part that could be answered easily. While PHSO routinely publishes data about the types of complaints it receives, it does not produce this data in the context of individuals making those complaints.

* ** How is it defining 'granular'?

And indeed if it is arguing granularity -that is 'small parts or bits' - it would be possible to define which granular parts might assist you. It hasn't.

* ***** The PHSO can't have it two ways -it's either too complex and cannot be unravelled easily - which takes it over the time constraint, or granular and it can.

* The Commissioner is satisfied that PHSO complied with section 16 and offered the complainant adequate advice and assistance with regard to his requests.

**** I can't understand it's response, and I'd bet 90 percent of the public wouldn't either.
FOIA responses are supposedly public comprehension friendly. Understood by the average member of the public.
This PHSO response is as clear as mud.

:::
To me it seems that the problem is that the PHSO is that it hasn't helped you one jot to refine the SCOPE of your request, as to one which you might provide a response.

1. Where is the straightforward information that would enable you to understand its internal filing system, so that the scope might be reduced?

2. How can you be expected-as a member of the public-to know it?

::::::::::

This is general advice:

Gaming - seeing FOIA requests as games to be 'won', by strategy, rather than providing a straightforward response with applying S16 - help and assistance.

This is how the PHSO sometimes responds to requests . This is an example.

What happened to me previously was that I was advised by the PHSO to refine my request to a certain format, then told I wasn't allowed to request that format.

Aimee Gasston states below:.....
' better defining your request, please let us know. You might want to request the names of staff at a specific grade'

My response to this particular FOIA strategy :

........Presumably, had I done so, you would not have been able to give me this information, owing to the privacy of the individuals concerned - so why direct me to do so?

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

::::

Nb

AG knows that, as a member of the public, I do not know the internal pay-grades - and the SCOPE of the request is already clearly stated as 'PHSO executive and senior officers'.

( Those are the officers who are public facing).

I am being 'suggested 'into making another request.

Why? The number of similar FOIA requests counts towards a vexation.
Where the PHSO could then stop me making any requests on this subject.

:::

And logically - as a member of the public, how would I know what grades particular PHSO individuals are on?

(Nb Much as you cannot decide how to refine the scope of your request - without understanding the PHSO filing system).

:::

The PHSO responses were leading me towards vexation as it's argument - eventually gave to the ICO - was that I had requested information on ALL PHSO employees.. which of course, might of made my request vexatious.

SCOPE KLAXON- One little point resting on the SCOPE of the requests -

I had NEVER requested ALL employee information - and, indeed, why would I?

So you can see, at this point, the PHSO is manoeuvring me towards vexation, even though I had NO interest in ALL employees' information ....and had not requested it.

Important: Do do not let the PHSO redefine the SCOPE of your request to one which it defines, without your permission.

::

Sure as death and taxes, my later refined request: 'Executive Office' was vexed on the grounds I was still chasing the information on ALL employees vexatiously, even though the PHSO had clearly failed to apply S16 in its strategic efforts towards applying a later vexation on a following request

( nb Coincidentally (?) the Vex came at the same time I was requesting why Dame Julie Mellor was employing a former work colleague ...but that's another story).

I presume that the PHSO was confident in thinking that the vexation would be supported by the ICO as no one else, let alone a Tribunal, would get to read it.

:::

The court looked, in vain, for the data point where I'd requested details on 'ALL employees'.

And for the 'over 100' requests, which the PHSO stated I had made - but was unable to provide the evidence to,the ICO. Which presumably hadn't investigated how many requests I had made. And just taken the PHSO's word for it.

Point: Watch out that the ICO isn't taking the 'word' of the PHSO without supporting evidence

:::

The court stated in it's judgement :

[8] Again we do not accept that the Appellant used her request as a means to vent anger at any particular decision or to harass and annoy the public authority.

We have considered carefully her response to this suggestion in her Grounds of Appeal and her detailed evidence before us and are satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for her request and there was reason to be dissatisfied with the service she was being given by the public authority.

This Tribunal reminds itself that there is duty on Public Authorities to assist members of the public in formulating and processing their requests.

( ***nb Section 16)

On hearing the Appellant on the facts in this case we are of the view that more could have been done to assist the processing of this request.

That this was a request with a genuine purpose was acknowledged by the Respondent but this Tribunal add that the Appellant has satisfied us that the need for her persistence, in its various forms as it transpired on the facts, is justified by the failure of the public authority to respond more comprehensively, effectively, efficiently or adequately.

(*** Basically saying I had no option BUT to keep going, due to the gaming and consistent breaching of S16 of the FoiAct ).

---

::::

Gaming strategy to watch out for .....

PHSO tactics in forcing me towards vexation:

1. Continually breaching S16 FOIA.

2. The duplication of requests on the same subject, (even those suggested by the PHSO) , counted against me as the PHSO went on to total up the requests as being 'vexatious'. It stated 'over 100', dropped it to '50' pre court.
The actual number was around 34 ...and not on the same subject.

3. Including clarifications as requests - to 'bump up' the vexatious total.

Court saw this evidence and didn't approve. Rather foolishly the PHSO had included the request above - as evidence of my 'vexatiousness' in asking to whom I might direct my internal complaint. ( Also later upheld).

:::::

Here's the courts knowledgable criticism of the PHSO's gaming - and its consequent failure to comply with the Act:

My request ......

.....is justified by the failure of the public authority to respond more comprehensively, effectively, efficiently or adequately.

:::

So the PHSO should provide an understandable S16 response, which allows you to redefine the scope of your request - to comply with the hourly requirement.

navartne left an annotation ()

Thank goodness there isn't a law against losing/saving face (or back scratching for that matter). Some of us will definitely be guilty as charged.

Oakley:

The template will probably be useful for experiencesd users of FOI. For novices, it's best to use your own words. You'll probably be aware that the ICO doesn't have an FOI template as such. There is a SAR template. Even then it's best to use your own words. Not jargon.

It's also worth remembering that there need not be any specific mention of the FOI Act (FOIA), although it may help to mention it. [1] For example, the public body (PB) cannot ignore the request if you do not mention the FOIA:

"For your request to be dealt with according to the Freedom of Information Act, you must:

.....

* make the request in writing, for example in a letter or an email. You can make a verbal or written request for environmental information;"

You do not have to:

* mention the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations, although it may help to do so;

....."

For FOI, if you cannot request info "in writing" due to disability the PB must make reasonable adjustments. e.g. accept a verbal request.

::

Note that if you are after Environmental Information, there are separate regulations. i.e. It's not covered by FOIA. The regulations that apply is called Environmental Information Regulations (EIR).[2] So, you'll need to mention these regulations not the "Freedom of Information Act 2000". I think this is how come the ICO advises us that the specific law do not need to be specified. Not everyone will be aware, which Act/Regulation covers what they are asking for.

I think once someone becomes familiar with FOIA/EIR, they would have a good idea which Act/regulation need to be mentioned.

::

The other thing, in terms of advise/feedback I can provide is:

The part about directing you to material that is already available on the public domain. That's actually written into the Act as an exemption. I believe it's section 21 of the FOIA. The PB ought to apply the exemption automatically and direct us to the material, without us having to tell them. Even then, PB's have to follow certain guidelines. [3]

If you do/don't specify and they fail to direct you to the relevant info. Either way, they would be breaking the law.

Apart from that, the template should be particularly useful for experienced users, if they are making a request to the PHSO, about FOI. The part about asking for original documents is particularly significant.

[1] - https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/offici...

[2] - https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

[3] - https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

" Staff turnover remains high at 16.4%/13.1% (total/permanent staff), though regretted loss runs at 2%."

If 16.4% was considered high, what do they make of 31%:

"Staff turnover

Staff turnover was 31% in 2016-17; higher than that in 2015-16 of 23%. This is also higher than the public sector benchmark of 14%. If we exclude those that left on voluntary exit or who were employed on fixed term contracts, our staff turnover reduces to 14%. " p60

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Since Dame Julie Mellor confidently announced that it was her leadership that was the key to improving the PHSO , the 'Compound interest' on 430 number of employees leaving @ 15 % means that all employees have been replaced - twice - in the last 5 years. (888)

Statistically there's no one left. 😀

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"When I joined PHSO half-way through the business year, I found an organisation facing considerable challenges. But despite these challenges, there was unfaltering passion from colleagues at all levels to provide justice for people. "

Amanda Campbell CBE Chief Executive

It appears that that staff haves an "unfaltering passion" to leave the place.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

And who could blame them? An organisation that seems to be over managed to a standstill, new processes every week, passing through executives in a stream and Dame Julie's cover up over Mick Martin' s ....cover up.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"Statistically there is no one left."

It may be that the turnover is higher in those sections that people think of when they hear the name PHSO, namely, staff who process complaints. Which makes me wonder who Rob Behrens had in mind when he stated in the Annual Report:

"It is also a good moment to celebrate the contribution of everyone who currently works for PHSO".

I suppose he also meant the large number of recently recruited staff as well as the large number soon to leave.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The quote was cut.

What he went on to add was...

'......even though most of them only started last week.
Takes at least two - before they start polishing up their CV's'.

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