Revised guidance note and amendment of decision letters.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In January 2018 the PHSO informed Mr Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), that in relation to judicial review challenges of their decisions:

'The PHSO have said that to make their practice clearer, they are preparing a revised guidance note to be placed on their website and are amending their decision letters to both complainants and bodies in jurisdiction.'

Bearing in mind that whilst the PHSO continues to sit on its hands countless numbers of complainants are being either timed-out of judicial review or being forced prematurely into it? The longer the PHSO sits on its hands and twiddles its toes the more people are denied access to justice and are being driven into enormous debt thanks to the actions of Mr Rob Behrens.

Please provide all information as to when this disgraceful situation will end, that is when you intend to finally getting round to publishing your promised revised guidance note and amended decision letters.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

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


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3 Attachments

Dear M Boyce

 

Thank you for your email requesting information held by the Parliamentary
and Health Service Ombudsman. Your request is as follows:

 

In January 2018 the PHSO informed Mr Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public
Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), that in
relation to judicial review challenges of their decisions:

 

'The PHSO have said that to make their practice clearer, they are
preparing a revised guidance note to be placed on their website and are
amending their decision letters to both complainants and bodies in
jurisdiction.'

 

Bearing in mind that whilst the PHSO continues to sit on its hands
countless numbers of complainants are being either timed-out of judicial
review or being forced prematurely into it? The longer the PHSO sits on
its hands and twiddles its toes the more people are denied access to
justice and are being driven into enormous debt thanks to the actions of
Mr Rob Behrens.

 

Please provide all information as to when this disgraceful situation will
end, that is when you intend to finally getting round to publishing your
promised revised guidance note and amended decision letters.

 

Your request will be responded to in line with the Freedom of Information
Act 2000. A response will be sent to you on or before 17th April 2018 in
line with the statutory timeframes set out in the Act.

 

Your sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

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M Boyce left an annotation ()

The most recent (2017) PHSO staff survey is illuminating.

Only 18% of staff thought that change is managed well in the PHSO. There has been big changes in 2017. Staff clearly know that those in charge couldn't organise the proverbial in a brewery.

Only 23% of staff thought that change in the PHSO is for the better. How right they are. When someone tells you that something is new and improved, you know that they are lying.

53% of staff rate PHSO planning, organisation, and understanding as poor. Join the club, so do the rest of us.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

I received a further response from Mr Bernard Jenkin's (Chair of PACAC) office yesterday regarding the utterly irresponsible way the PHSO approaches judicial review if its decisions. They state:

'PACAC have REPEATEDLY challenged the PHSO on how long they take to carry out reviews, including in the last scrutiny session in December. The PHSO have now clarified their policy on not opposing 'out of time' applications for judicial review where the delay has been caused by the PHSO.'

PACAC have repeatedly 'challenged' the PHSO on this issue and the PHSO have repeatedly ignored them. So much for holding them to account. PACAC are very happy with the new clarification which shows the PHSO to be utterly 'magnanimous'. The PHSO won't challenge something seriously wrong that is entirely their fault. That's like a serial killer saying to the victims' relatives that they will not sue the victims' families for that victim fighting back to try and save their life. It is not a slap in the face, but a full frontal howling with laughter kick in the teeth.
It is now difficult to tell who is the most reprehensible: the PHSO or PACAC.

C Rock left an annotation ()

Presumably any "Revised guidance note and amendment of decision letters" will not apply to unresolved so-called 'historic' (delayed) cases?

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Outcome of my application for judicial review against the PHSO –
My application has been refused as ‘totally without merit’.
Chronology and outline of events:
31 October 2017 I received my PHSO Final Decision
19 November 2017 I requested a review of the Final Decision. I was informed it would take at least 12-16 weeks for the Customer Care Team (CCT) to decide whether to conduct a review or not.
03 December 2017 I sent the CCT a letter before claim as part of the Pre-Action Protocol for judicial review.
16 December 2017 I was informed by the legal team at the PHSO that:
‘If you wish to appeal the Ombudsman’s decision then you have a period of three months in which to issue judicial review proceedings, this is from the date of the final decision in your case which is the date of the final report. This is not extended if you request that the decision is reviewed. If you go over that three-month period you are likely to be considered by the Court as out of time.’
19 January 2018 I made an application to the High Court for judicial review of the PHSO’s Final Decision of 31 October 2017.
09 February 2018 the PHSO (now the Defendant) issued me with an acknowledgment of service to my application for judicial review. They asked the Court for a stay of proceedings whilst they decided whether to conduct a review of my Final Decision. They also asked the Court that if a stay was not to be granted then my application should be summarily dismissed as completely without merit.
21 February 2018 the Honourable Mr Justice Lavender made the decision that my application be refused as totally without merit, and that I should be refused permission to appeal at an oral hearing. I was aware that the judge had made his decision on the 21 February, but I was not allowed to know what that decision was. This decision was not to be communicated to me until the date of service, which was 28 March 2018.
09 March 2018 the PHSO legal team informed me that they had been in communication with the CCT and had decided that my request met the very stringent conditions required for a review to be granted. Only a tiny fraction of one percent of all requests for a review are granted. These conditions are almost identical to the necessary grounds for judicial review. To my knowledge the Defendant did not know what the outcome of the judge’s decision was at this time; in other words, the PHSO did not know that the judge had already refused my application as totally without merit. So, the PHSO had now decided that they had possibly got it wrong, and the judge had decided that they had in fact got it absolutely right!
10 March 2018 I asked the Court if I could inform the judge that the Defendant had granted permission for a review of their Final Decision. I was informed that this was not possible because the judge had already made his decision and would not now take this information into account.
29 March 2018 I received the decision from the High Court. In summary it stated that:
Permission is hereby refused.
The application is considered to be totally without merit.
No order as to costs.
The judge’s very brief elaboration on the above is so defective it almost laughable. I don’t believe he even bothered to look properly at my submissions, but instead just looked at the PHSO’s submissions.
The inescapable question though is: why did the judge just not permit a short stay of proceedings to allow the PHSO ADR process to run its course as it should have done in the first place? Any reasonable and right-minded person would have allowed this, simply in the interests of fairness. This fact alone proves that the judge has not behaved fairly, and his assertion of ‘completely without merit’ therefore simply cannot also be trusted as fair. The judge remained utterly silent on my being forced prematurely into this judicial review.
There was no order as to costs because, although the PHSO had asked for costs (almost £2000 for the acknowledgement of service), they had in fact failed to provide a schedule of costs to the Court.
I spoke to my solicitor on 28 March 2018 and he informed me that I should not apply to appeal the High Court decision because the PHSO had now agreed to review their decision.
The PHSO have told me that they aim to complete their review in about 10 weeks. The further problem now is that since the judge has declared my case as totally without merit, then this will inevitably determine the PHSO’s review decision. The PHSO ADR process cannot be fair if it has already been influenced by external agency. If that is the case then the decision will remain unchanged and in theory unchallengeable by another fresh judicial review. The stich-up will then be complete.
The PHSO pushed me prematurely into judicial review, leaving the tax-payer with a bill of nearly two thousand pounds for court costs, and me at my wits end with worry and stress. They have completely subverted the process of natural justice by doing everything back to front. They have been endorsed by Mr Bernard Jenkin and PACAC who have stated in writing that the PHSO think it is ok to merely not actively oppose a late application for judicial review. They know the Court will almost always refuse a late application. A further problem is that a late application has to be filed at the same time and on the same application for judicial review – the Claimant has to fully prepare and submit all the voluminous judicial review paperwork to the Court; they have to pay the substantial fees for application for JR, and they then also run the risk of having to pay the costs of the Defendant’s acknowledgement of service (often up to £5000) – and this on the back of a forced premature or late application. The PHSO and PACAC think this is just fine and dandy. It is not, and I intend to put a permanent stop to this outrage. The PHSO, PACAC and the judiciary will very soon be under the scrutiny of the media with regard to this matter, as it affects not just me, but potentially all those who have appealed, currently appeal, or will appeal to the PHSO, and then possibly to the courts. This sham that masquerades as justice has to stop.

Calum Clark left an annotation ()

I agree this is outrageous and is definitely in need of the media's attention.

They don't see the irony in being a organisation publicly funded to oversee fair play, which at the same time encourages those already caused injustice by a public authority to have that injustice increased significantly, by engaging in its own process knowing that their grievances will be dealt with in an unfair and biased way.

It's the same routine with any complaint procedure governed by statute. The ultimate deterrent which is the threat by way of litigation costs if you dare question their always dubious findings has become standard practice for so long that the wrong in it is no longer seen by officials.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

You are right. The public need to know about this. Can I put it out on the web site PHSOtheFACTS?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The PHSO decision to grant a review seems at variance with Judge Lavender's decision to dismiss your case as 'totally without merit'.

'The Court in Wasif confirmed that “totally without merit” means “no more and no less than ‘bound to fail‘”. A case will be bound to fail (and therefore totally without merit) where there is “no rational basis on which the claim could succeed“'

https://www.hlregulation.com/2016/02/24/...

It makes one wonder how many other PHSO decisions deemed worthy of review have been dismissed by judges as 'totally without merit', and also how many review outcomes have been influenced by 'totally without merit' decisions.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

PHSOthe facts, yes you can certainly put in on your site.

Calum, I will wait for the outcome of the PHSO review and their changes to decision letters and guidance updates (promised this month), and then I aim to contact several newspapers to arrange an interview.

J Roberts, dismissing an application for JR as 'totally without merit' means that it is virtually impossible to then appeal. To appeal a totally without merit case requires a huge amount of document preparation, almost as much as the original JR application. You only have 7 days to do this, and in my case there was a four day weekend - effectively leaving just 3 days. I started out as a litigant in person, but recently managed to find an understanding solicitor under legal aid and he has stated that I should be able to lodge a fresh JR application when the PHSO issue their review decision (will they contradict Mr injustice Lavender? Let's see). Let's hope my solicitor is right. In the meantime I am going to see my MP to ask for a ministerial inquiry into this very serious, but laughable farce. If he refuses to take this matter seriously then I will turn up at his constituency office every single day for weeks on end until he does.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

If you win your judicial review, which very rarely happens, the judge asks PHSO to 'take another look'. In other words to review the process it took in dealing with the complaint in the first place. I wouldn't be surprised to find that PHSO informed the judge via their legal team that they were prepared to 'take another look' which effectively makes your case 'without merit' as you have the best outcome in any event.
When PHSO review your case you have barely a 1% chance they will uphold your complaint against them and even smaller chance that they will change the outcome. See FOI below.

I think they are referring to the total number of reviews upheld over 3 years, which is a pitiful 71 apparently, especially when you consider there were more than 5000 review requests!
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

In fact they never change a flawed report though there is nothing to stop them but decide instead to hold a new investigation and tie you up for another year or more. The truth of the matter is that PHSO work on a risk analysis basis and the risk of the public body legal team taking them to task is always greater than that of the individual citizen. Anyway, they can rely on the courts to screen out most legal complaints from the public. Job done.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Why didn't the PHSO just wait for the judge's decision before they decided whether to decide to review the decision or not? They had absolutely nothing to gain by jumping the gun, and in some ways have shot themselves in the foot.
In terms of Mr injustice Lavender's decision he gave three main reasons, all of them completely incorrect and demonstrably incorrect at that. He knew that a 'totally without merit' decision meant that I could not directly challenge him, no matter how outrageously wrong he was. But I will challenge him indirectly.
As I've said before, my individual case is now small potatoes compared to the rolling snowball that the PHSO continues to push faster and harder in terms of pushing me and others into court in the first place, especially when it's not necessary. That is their Achilles heal. Judicial review should only ever be a last resort - the PHSO have been using it as a dangerous game of brinkmanship for years, and have been getting away with it. Well not for much longer.

Mary Rains left an annotation ()

You may want to be aware of the following M. Boyce:-
As most of us know the problem complainants face is that the agencies they complain about 'lose/ destroy/ withhold' vital pieces of evidence or lie to protect themselves, their reputation and their staff. So why are these bad practices allowed to continue?
What the public may not be aware of is that PHSO HAS LEGAL POWERS - THE SAME POWERS AS THE HIGH COURT to challenge such situations but seldom (if ever) uses these powers - they are embedded in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (PCA) 1967 Section 8 and Section 12/2 of the HSCA . The Ombudsman has the status of a judge and HAS THE AUTHORITY to request the attendance and examination of witnesses, ask for documents using oaths and affirmations, cross examination etc. Under Sect 9 PHSO can even certify an offence of 'contempt of court' to the High Court should an agency refuse to cooperate. These powers therefore provide PHSO with an image of professionalism, responsibility and authority. However these powers are never (or rarely) used. Ultimately PHSO takes the agency's word at 'face value' and thus an 'investigation' can be flawed from the outset. The current system is not 'fair' and a complainant will be severely disadvantaged from the outset. Add to this the fact that PACAC which is supposed to 'scrutinise' PHSO consistently fails to challenge their lack of use of these legal powers and by their inaction allows bad practices to continue.
I write this in the hope that it may make it easier to understand why so very few judicial reviews are ever successful and why the vast majority of very genuine complaints are never upheld.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Yes Mary you are quite right in what you say: the establishment always protects the establishment, no matter what wrongdoing has occurred or how serious it is. They are normally very good at covering their tracks, but my case has got messy and it's getting messy for them. How messy? I don't know, but I'm not going to give up on this.
I can't change the world, and very few individuals can, but there are some very determined and persistent people on this site who are going to keep on fighting for justice because it's worth fighting for. Like all bullies and cowards, the PHSO don't like it when people fight back.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

I have to agree with you about fighting back. Knowing the truth about this organisation I would be complicit in their corruption if I stood by and said nothing. I'm sure that phso work hand in glove with the courts just as they do with all other agencies of the state. The easiest way for phso to sidestep an awkward (as in could be successful) JR is to agree to take another look. It stops the process in its tracks. The judge then puts the tin lid on by giving the 'wholly without merit' ruling making it difficult to come back for a second bite of the cherry. Corrupt by design.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

The way my case is going is actually working to my benefit. It is almost impossible to pin the PHSO down on individual cases because no one outside the PHSO will look at individual cases - corruption and abuse sits within a protected bubble. My case has expanded very nicely outside of that protective bubble because it clearly highlights systemic failure by design exposed from an individual case. MP's and the media won't touch individual cases, but an individual case that demonstrates widespread and generic malpractice within the PHSO, and possibly the courts, is a different matter altogether. The PHSO really have let their guard slip on this and they are going to suffer the consequences. I've arranged to see my MP this Thursday and he will listen and act, or he too will be drawn into this growing scandal.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

I managed to speak to kim Ellis, Head of Customer Service, at the PHSO today. I wanted to know when the promised guidance revision and amended decision letters were going to be effected (first promised in January 2018). I was told that this had now been delayed due the consequences to the PHSO of recently losing in the Court of Appeal case of 'Miller & Another v The Health Service Commissioner for England'. Let's see what, or if, anything happens.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

' The judgement comprises a powerful criticism of operating practices within the Health Service Commissioner's office [PHSO] as revealed in the particular investigation, and can be expected to lead to SIGNIFICANT changes in the process it follows in investigating complaints.'
What does this imply about all other cases the PHSO have investigated?
The application for JR was originally refused by the Court, but allowed on appeal. In my case my application was refused by the Court, but I cannot now appeal because the PHSO have already agreed to review their decision.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

It is not often that complaints dealt with by the PHSO reach the Court of Appeal.

In this case, the PHSO upheld a complaint from a woman whose husband had died – poor care on the part of two GPs. The GPs were knocked back at judicial review (2015), but succeeded at the Court of Appeal (2018):
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

Many of the points made in the judgement could be applied to the majority cases where the ombudsman has failed to uphold a complaint:

“58 It may be the case that the absolute nature of the standard of review adopted by the ombudsman tends to inculcate an approach that there cannot be a reasonable explanation or alternative once a clinical opinion is given by an independent advisor that is adverse.”

Most clinical opinions are not adverse. Would this sentence not also make sense if the final words 'that is adverse' were deleted?

“59 It is also conceded that the ombudsman's evidence from one of her most experienced Directors, Mr Kellett, contained an unfortunate use of language when he said "if it is not written down it didn't happen unless there is other corroborating evidence". I do not accept that this was an erroneous use of language: it reflected the practice of and language used by officials in the documents to which this court was taken ie unless the doctor had noted something in the clinical records, poor practice is assumed.”

Many complainants whose complaints were not upheld might suspect that the attitude of "if it is not written down it didn't happen unless there is other corroborating evidence" leads to a lack of commitment on the part of the PHSO to establish the full facts.

“80 In this case the ombudsman chose a surgical expert who relied upon his own research. No attempt was made to understand whether that research which was published internationally had been peer reviewed and/or was accepted in this jurisdiction. For all the ombudsman might know, the research may not be accepted by a reasonable body of medical practitioners in the field. That in itself leads to another problem, the ombudsman chose a surgical expert who was a colorectal surgeon. That was not an obviously relevant or appropriate expert to advise upon the appropriate practice of a GP.”

Will Rob Behrens be announcing anything to confirm that all experts used in future will have peer reviewed expertise in the field they are to investigate?

'82 The standard chosen by the ombudsman is beguilingly simple but incoherent. It cannot provide clarity or consistency of application to the facts of different cases. There is no yardstick of reasonable or responsible practice but rather a counsel of perfection that can be arbitrary. It runs the risk of being a lottery dependent on the professional opinion of the advisor that is chosen. It is unreasonable and irrational and accordingly, unlawful.'

Can't add anything to this.

Finally, I recommend the conclusion, which includes this:

“There are aspects of poor practice which are not of themselves sufficient to amount to a procedural unfairness but the ombudsman may think that they require review.”

Ah, another review, possibly. This judgement makes clear the great deal of work involved for the PHSO if it upholds a serious complaint.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Not only does this case highlight serious deficiencies in decision-making by the PHSO, but also by the Administrative High Court. Nearly all applications for judicial review fall at the permission stage, as in this case and as in my case. Most claimants won't appeal dismissal at the permission stage because it then gets very, very expensive. If they did appeal, they would probably win. Judicial review is rigged to favour the rich and the powerful - like the PHSO who have UNLIMITED access to public tax-payer money to employ their fancy lawyers.
This is what justice means in this country.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Mr Kelley said in an email to LGO that my son’s death would appeared to have been avoidable but the Trust has been limited simply to an apology for poor hospital discharge.

The case worker had previously written to the Trust, you don’t think it was poor discharge procedure and I agree, but if you will apologise for that, I will not look at the other 5 complains. Another 5 complaints ran along side the case and intertwined with it, it was the mental health trust. That Trust said, my complaint was out of time and the PHSO caseworker agreed but then went on to say why it was not all out of date. He didn’t share this with me, I was left with, it’s out of date.

All but one of 11 complaints were turned down.

I got a meaningless apology from the first Trust from a very arrogant CO which was not worth the paper it was written on. A member of staff from the second Trust was over hard to say, they found no case to answer.

LGO found 10 maladministration faults in the same case for Social Services. How can the same case have such different outcomes from these two bodies?

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

The Miller case against the Ombudsman was driven by money from clinical litigation insurance companies. They had a vested interest in preventing PHSO from awarding significant payments to complainants. It was worth this test case to nip any such behaviour in the bud. Both parties had powerful and funded legal teams which are not available to the average citizen, yet PACAC and Parliament continually say that the Ombudsman is held to account by judicial review. So this is twice in 50 years that the Ombudsman has lost in court. Not good odds.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear M.Boyce

 

RE: Your information request: FDN - 275120

 

I write in response to your email of 15^th March 2018 in regards to your
request for information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). Your request has been handled under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

You have requested the following:

 

In January 2018 the PHSO informed Mr Bernard Jenkin, Chair of the Public
Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), that in
relation to judicial review challenges of their decisions:

 

'The PHSO have said that to make their practice clearer, they are
preparing a revised guidance note to be placed on their website and are
amending their decision letters to both complainants and bodies in
jurisdiction.'

 

Bearing in mind that whilst the PHSO continues to sit on its hands
countless numbers of complainants are being either timed-out of judicial
review or being forced prematurely into it? The longer the PHSO sits on
its hands and twiddles its toes the more people are denied access to
justice and are being driven into enormous debt thanks to the actions of
Mr Rob Behrens.

 

Please provide all information as to when this disgraceful situation will
end, that is when you intend to finally getting round to publishing your
promised revised guidance note and amended decision letters.

 

Response:

 

We will release the updated guidance as soon as possible, but in the
meantime our responses to individual complainants have of course been
consistent with the position as set out to PACAC.

I hope that this information is useful. If you believe we have made an
error in the way I have processed your information request, it is open to
you to request an internal review.  You can do this by writing to us by
post or by email to [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need
to specify what the nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter
further. Beyond that, it is open to you to complain to the Information
Commissioner’s Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

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Dear InformationRights,

You have stated the following:

'We will release the updated guidance as soon as possible, but in the meantime our responses to individual complainants have of course been consistent with the position as set out to PACAC.'

The information set out to PACAC in January 2018 was as follows:

'Where the complainant or body in jurisdiction requests a review of that decision, we would not seek to challenge a late issue of judicial review proceedings where either PHSO has looked at the adjudication and decided there are not grounds for a review, or PHSO agrees to a review and the review is brought to a conclusion.'

To be quite clear about this: are you now stating that the above is currently being communicated to individual complainants in their decision letters?
I will be contacting PHSO managers tomorrow to ask for either a screen-shot, or a verbatim account, of the generic information in your current decision letters to verify your commitment/assertion.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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M Boyce left an annotation ()

I contacted the PHSO today by phone to ask if they could provide me with a screen-shot of the putative new generic guidance on late applications for judicial review contained within current decision letters. Surprise, surprise no managers were available to discuss or provide this information - and none would be available in the future either I was told.
I believe the PHSO are lying about these new decision letters. They are continuing to lead complainants down the same old garden path and into the judicial review trap that awaits.

C Rock left an annotation ()

Historic cases first - under historic promises

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear M. Boyce

 

Thank you for your email. You have stated the following:

 

'We will release the updated guidance as soon as possible, but in the
meantime our responses to individual complainants have of course been
consistent with the position as set out to PACAC.'

 

The information set out to PACAC in January 2018 was as follows:

 

'Where the complainant or body in jurisdiction requests a review of that
decision, we would not seek to challenge a late issue of judicial review
proceedings where either PHSO has looked at the adjudication and decided
there are not grounds for a review, or PHSO agrees to a review and the
review is brought to a conclusion.'

 

To be quite clear about this: are you now stating that the above is
currently being communicated to individual complainants in their decision
letters?

I will be contacting PHSO managers tomorrow to ask for either a
screen-shot, or a verbatim account, of the generic information in your
current decision letters to verify your commitment/assertion.’

 

Question:

 

‘To be quite clear about this: are you now stating that the above is
currently being communicated to individual complainants in their decision
letters?’

 

Response:

 

No we are not stating this.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Then can you please let me know what the current decision letters are stating on the issue of judicial review?

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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3 Attachments

Dear M.Boyce

 

RE: Your information request: FDN - 275187

 

I write in response to your email of 19^th April 2018 in regards to your
request for information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). Your request has been handled under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

You have requested the following:

 

Follow on from FDN-275120:

 

Then can you please let me know what the current decision letters are
stating on the issue of judicial review?

 

Response:

 

The current decision letters do not include a standard line about the
issue of Judicial Review (JR) and this is because such communication would
only be had with individuals who raise the issue with us. Therefore, such
letters would be bespoke. However, advice is given to caseworkers on a
case by case basis depending on how the issue of JR is raised with them,
this is to ensure any response accurately addresses the full scope of any
query in relation to JR, whilst remaining consistent with the position as
set out to PACAC.

I hope that this information is useful. If you believe we have made an
error in the way I have processed your information request, it is open to
you to request an internal review.  You can do this by writing to us by
post or by email to [1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need
to specify what the nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter
further. Beyond that, it is open to you to complain to the Information
Commissioner’s Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

Yours sincerely

 

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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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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 'Revised guidance note and amendment of decision letters.'.

Your 'clarification' has only muddied the waters even further. It makes no sense whatsoever.
In your original response you stated:

'Our responses to individual complainants have of course been consistent with the position as set out to PACAC.'
How can responses be MEANINGFULLY consistent with the advice given to PACAC if the complainant has not been made aware of this advice in their decision letter? If someone has not been given a certain piece of advice then logically that advice is of no value to that individual because they don't know about it.
All of this is just another example of how the PHSO is utterly failing in its 'mission' to be clear and transparent. How does all this nonsense accord with the promise of 'amended' decision letters? There has been no amendment and there is clearly not going to be any amendment. You have misled PACAC, you have misled me, and you continue to mislead the public. This has to stop.

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,

M Boyce

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


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Dear InformationRights,

Further to, and to be coupled with, my request for internal review please address the following:

When I informed the PHSO that I was going to apply for JR I was told the following:

'If you wish to appeal the Ombudsman's decision then you have a period of three months in which to issue JR proceedings, this is from the date of the final decision in your case which is the date of the final report. This is not extended if you request that the decision is reviewed. If you go over that three-month period you are likely to be considered by the Court as out of time.'

This is what you told PACAC:

'Where the complainant or body in jurisdiction requests a review of that decision, we would not seek to challenge a late issue of JR proceedings where either PHSO has looked at the adjudication and decided there are not grounds for a review, or PHSO agrees to a review and the review is brought to a conclusion.'

The two pieces of advice above are fundamentally inconsistent and are fundamentally unfair. How is it consistent/fair to assure complainants that the PHSO will not oppose a late application caused by delays in the PHSO review process, only then to state that such an application will likely to be considered out of time by the Court in any case? You are saying: don't worry, we won't oppose a late application, but the Court most certainly will -- ha ha ha.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

I'm guessing they don't want to give up on one of their 'get out of jail free' cards. Once they get rid of you and your pesky request who knows if they will correctly inform those who follow your route to JR? No one knows, not even PACAC as they are forbidden from examining individual casework. It should not be for members of the public to continual hold PHSO to account, there must be some external oversight. Your request and the difficulty they are putting you to is a great example of why PHSO cannot be trusted to run things with total autonomy.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

What is becoming increasingly clear is that PACAC is not part of the solution, but is a very big part of the problem. The PHSO will never be held to account while PACAC exists in its current form. I would not trust Bernard Jenkin as far as Theresa May could throw him. I recently watched the Home Affairs Committee with Chair Yvette Cooper and she did not pull her punches with Amber Rudd. If anyone has watched PACAC in action (I know PHSOthefacts have sat in on several sessions) it is like watching a group of old friends chatting politely over several bottles of whisky. Mr Jenkin has no interest in holding his mate Bob to account - in fact there is more back-slapping going on than a Trump - Macron booze-up. I have asked my MP to contact an appropriate minister to initiate a ministerial inquiry into the PHSO denying complainants FAIR access to judicial review, but I expect him to drag his feet for a very long time. Luckily I'm very patient and very persistent.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

The PHSO have informed both PACAC and myself that they are:

'..amending their decision letters to both complainants and bodies in jurisdiction[to make the process of judicial review, as it relates to PHSO decisions, clearer].

Please confirm whether the PHSO are amending their decision letters or not. Notice that the communication to PACAC says ARE amending, not will amend - in other words the amendments should be happening now.

Myself and the public needs to know whether you have misled PACAC over this issue. Bear in mind that Amber Rudd has just resigned because she mislead the Home Affairs Committee.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

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


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3 Attachments

Dear M Boyce,

 

Thank you for your email dated 26^th April 2018.

 

We acknowledge your request for an internal review of the handling of your
request and will provide you with a response as soon as possible.

 

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

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show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Your response to my request for an internal review is now well over due. Please respond within 3 days or I will contact the Information Commissioner's Office to ask them to launch an investigation.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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16 Attachments

Dear M Boyce,

 

Internal Review of Freedom of Information Request (FDN-275120 &
FDN-275187)

                                                                            

I have considered your previous correspondence including your request for
an internal review.

 

Internal Review Response

 

Timeliness of response:

 

The response to your requests were within the 20 working days stipulated
by section 10(1) Freedom of Information Act.

 

Information Provided:

 

I have reconsidered your requests and our responses to you. I consider our
responses answered the questions raised. In order to assist and to provide
more clarity to you please see the information below and attached.

 

Our Service Model Policy and Guidance: main guidance has been updated and
is available on our website
[1]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...
. As this guidance is reasonably accessible on our website it is exempt
under s21 of the Freedom of Information Act. In summary, the updates that
relate to our new process are:

o Amendments and additional clarification to our approach to alternative
legal remedy. This includes asking whether a complainant can afford to
pay for their own legal action.
o Provided clarity on the new ‘provisional views’ stage, previously
known as draft report stage.
o The introduction of a new provisional views template and new letter
templates.
o The requirement to offer to share material evidence at provisional
views stage to all parties.
o The requirement to let all parties to an investigation know if we find
contradictory evidence, and information on what this means.

Our letters to parties have been amended to make the process clearer
(attached). I have been advised that we have not been looking to include
information in our template letters regarding Judicial Reviews.

 

 

Conclusion

 

For the reasons set out above, I uphold our responses. However I trust the
information above and attached is of assistance.

 

If you remain unhappy with our response, it is open to you to complain to
the Information Commissioner’s Office ([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Andrew Martin

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

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M Boyce left an annotation ()

Your response completely misses the point, as usual.

You provide information on alternative legal remedy (ALR) contained within your updated main guidance. Why are you unaware that judicial review of your decisions would almost NEVER constitute an ALR? Judicial review is often referred to as a 'remedy of last resort' - and for the obvious reason that it should usually only be used as a last resort - NOT an ALR to the PHSO.
I will remind you of exactly what the letter from PACAC to me said in January 2018:

'PHSO and Judicial Review'

I am writing in response to your email of 29th January regarding your concern that the PHSO's timescales for reviewing their decisions effectively precludes a complainant seeking a judicial review within the normal 12-week deadline, while a failure to exhaust the PHSO's review process would lead to the courts refusing permission for a judicial review.
If you are considering bringing a judicial review, I would strongly advise that you seek professional legal advice on the specific circumstances of your case before taking any decisions. As you may be aware, PACAC, does not investigate individual cases.
However, I have contacted the PHSO and they have assured me that their general policy is that: 'where the complainant or body in jurisdiction requests a review of that decision, we would not seek to challenge a late issue of judicial review proceedings where either; PHSO has looked at the adjudication and decided there are not grounds for a review, or PHSO agrees to a review and the review is brought to a conclusion.'
The PHSO have said that to make their practice clearer, they are preparing a revised guidance note to be placed on their website and are amending their decision letters to both complainants and bodies in jurisdiction.
Ultimately only the courts have the discretion to allow 'out-of-time' applications for judicial review so the PHSO cannot give any definitive assurances that permission would be granted in such circumstances.
Yours sincerely

Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of PACAC.'

How does the May 2018 PHSO updated main guidance make the above practice of denying complainants fair and unfettered access to judicial review any clearer? It clearly doesn't.
How does your updated decision letter template make the above practice of denying complainants fair and unfettered access to judicial review any clearer, especially bearing in mind that you have decided not to even mention judicial review? It clearly doesn't.
I will now be contacting the ICO, my MP, and Bernard Jenkin and PACAC about this. You have misled me, PACAC and the public. Every decision the PHSO has ever made or will ever make should be made null and void because the PHSO is denying complainants fair and unfettered access to judicial review. If the PHSO know their decisions can NEVER be effectively challenged because they are tying complainants hands behind their backs as the complainant approaches an already deferentially biased court, then EVERY single decision they have ever made has to be called into question. Every single decision.

Dear InformationRights,

Please explain why you have not provided a template for the final decision letter, which is what I asked for? This is the crucial template document, not the other irrelevant stuff you have sent me.

Why did the PHSO inform PACAC that they were implicitly going to make their practice of denying complainants fair and unfettered access to judicial review clearer in their new guidance (main guidance), and then signally fail do so?
You know full well that the letter to PACAC was about the matter of access to judicial review AFTER the issuance of the final decision letter , and not about alternative legal remedy, which in your main guidance only refers to the pre- full investigation stage in any case.
You are being deliberately obstructive and evasive and it needs to stop now. When my investigations are complete I promise you that I will expose this whole shameful behaviour to the media and the PHSO will then finally be publicly held to account for your utterly disgraceful behaviour of denying complainants fair and unencumbered access to judicial review AFTER the issuance of your final decision - taking more than three months to complete any review and therefore placing great risk of large financial loss and refusal by a judge to accept a late application for JR.
In my review outcome you acknowledged that you were placing complainants at risk by this behaviour, but you offered no apology and you considered that this practice was just fine and would continue.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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C Rock left an annotation ()

I agree M Boyce the whole affair is shameful in not being transparent, fair or free for that matter. My complaint showed a complete switch in an 'agreed' outcome bargained with the NHS people in question because they disagreed with PHSO findings which weren't even as severe as the facts showed.

The NHS defence relied on some views which did not tie up with local or national policies and, as now revealed 'after the fact' that an NHS specialist 'dissed' our family's experience with an outright lie, to add credibility to his faulted argument. The PHSO never questioned this - they just fell for it without a question.

This has to be something the PHSO cares not one jot about. I was told it was recently 'reviewed', by top staff (no evidence for that either) and written off... "with total trust in PHSO investigation".

It will be open for public appraisal because the PHSO have had, and shot down, too many opportunities for insight and improvement.

My son was denied proper care and died because 'he did not have insight', but compared to PHSO he was a Sage.

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

This is all so utterly unacceptable...…..

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Yes Brenda it is, and on top of this Bernard Jenkin, Chair of PACAC, has just been knighted for his services with regard to the 'scrutiny' of the PHSO. You just couldn't make it up!

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

6 Attachments

Dear M Boyce

 

Thank you for your email.

 

We do not have a specific 'final decision letter' which is why this was
not provided to you.

 

The caseworker will produce a draft and final report (now referred to as
‘provisional views’) which will be provided along with a cover letter. The
cover letter is bespoke for each case but the caseworker will use and
amend the template titled '4a Provisional views letter' for the
draft/provisional report to the person affected and use the template
titled '5a cover letter for final report' for the final report to the
person affected.

 

I have attached these templates along with the template for the
draft/final report titled 'provisional views template'.

 

Your sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

   

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you for the information you have provided.

You have provided a template for the cover letter for final reports (previously final decisions), but this is confusing and worrying. It is dated July 2017, and yet I received a final decision letter dated 31 October 2017? The former is supposed to post-date the latter?
More worrying still is the very serious omission that the cover letter for the final report contains. In the final decision letters complainants were informed of the following:

'If you have any feedback about our SERVICE or DECISION then we would like to hear from you.'

In the 'updated' final report letters complainants are now only informed of the following:

'If you have any feedback about our SERVICE then we would like to hear from you.'

No mention any more about reviews of decisions. Have you now stopped offering a possible review of your decisions (final reports)? If so, how does this now affect judicial review?
Your January 2018 letter to PACAC stated that you were amending your guidance and letters to make your practice clearer. How does any of the above make your practice clearer?
I am currently waiting to hear from Sir Bernard about all this. Let's see if he is willing to scrutinise all this or not. If not, the media will be scrutinising not only the PHSO but Mr Jenkin and PACAC as well.
I will remind you that you have a stated commitment to transparency.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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M Boyce left an annotation ()

The PHSO have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to deliver a fair, transparent and unbiased service:
they refuse to publish an updated Customer Care Guidance (last updated October 2016);
they don't inform complainants about their right to request a review of their final report (final decision) in their May 2018 Main Guidance;
they have now omitted to inform complainants in their final report cover letter that they can request a review of their final report, when previously they did inform them of this right;
they refuse to mention in their updated guidance or any of their updated letters to complainants that they are denying complainants fair access to judicial review of their very poor decision-making;
they mislead PACAC by telling them that they would update their guidance and letters to make their practice of denying fair access to judicial review clearer. These are now more unclear than ever.

Why is the PHSO so intent on hiding information, on not providing clear information, and on constantly breaking promise after promise? This unaccountable quango is wasting tens of millions of pounds of tax-payer money every year and is rewarding failure on an industrial scale. How much longer can this farce continue?

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear M Boyce,

 

RE: Your information request – R0000072

 

Thank you for your email dated 14 June 2018. We are writing to acknowledge
receipt of your request for information held by the Parliamentary and
Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

 

In accordance with the statutory timeframe set out in the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, a response will be sent to you by 12 July 2018. This
is 20 working days from the date of your initial request to us.

 

If you have any queries regarding your information request in the meantime
please do not hesitate to contact us at
[1][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

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

 

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Our Service Charter explains how we work
[7]Click here to find out more

 

Watch our short animation to find out how we deal with complaints

 

 

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C Rock left an annotation ()

I looked at the offered PHSO link for information on how it works, but only found this - which said nothing, but said all:

We:
"explain our role and what we can and cannot do" (which is not what you have been told to expect, and will not align with complainants' reasons for going to PHSO))

"explain how we handle complaints and what information we need from you" (which is their means of stepping away and in no way appreciates the hardship you are immediately placed under. The information is only used to illustrate how you were wrong and expected too much)

"direct you to someone who can help with your complaint if we are unable to" ( even though you have exhausted the correct procedures and the PHSO is 'last stop')

"keep you regularly updated on our progress with your complaint" (only if PHSO thinks this is necessary - otherwise wait... and wait as the months trickle by)

M Boyce left an annotation ()

The PHSO is an organisation that is rotten from top to bottom, and sadly they are being allowed to get away with it by PACAC. They operate with a mixture of gross incompetence, utter disregard, and misconduct of the most serious nature. They HAVE to be stopped because they are causing untold distress to people who deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. Rob Behrens sits in his ivory tower picking-up his enormous tax-payer funded salary and he fiddles while Rome burns. I will not rest until I have done everything I can to bring this pernicious organisation to account, and I know I am not alone as many others on this site feel the same way and are also prepared to not just sound-off about this injustice, but are prepared to act to end it.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear M Boyce

PHSO reference R0000072
Acknowledgment of your request

Thank you for your correspondence of 14th June 2018.

Your request will be handled under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. A response will be sent on or before 12th July 2018.

Regards,

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

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M Boyce left an annotation ()

When I received my review decision a few weeks ago it contained over a dozen apologies and stated that the PHSO had made serious mistakes in their final decision. They didn't, however, offer to conduct a fresh review. Today I phoned the senior caseworker who conducted the review of my final decision to ask if the review was upheld or not upheld (partly for the record), because it didn't say. The senior caseworker informed me that he didn't know! The reason why, he explained, was because he doesn't normally conduct reviews and doesn't know what they should contain. I was told that the PHSO legal team would explain further. You just couldn't make it up. Reviews of decisions are being conducted by people who openly admit they don't know what they are doing! Doesn't this inspire confidence in the PHSO?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"The senior caseworker informed me that he didn't know!"

The PHSO are currently seeking an Accreditation Manager whose job is ""to proactively manage the senior caseworker’s relationship with the accreditation framework and process".

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

It would appear that things aren't working as they should.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

The PHSO is 'not working properly' (a euphemism for a disgraceful shambles) at every level:

Caseworkers are not properly trained and some are barely literate. Some may care, but others couldn't care less;

Casework managers are lazy, incompetent and work to actively endorse poor decision-making by their caseworkers, however egregious it may be;

The Customer Care Team, although usually very friendly and outwardly helpful on the phone, are woefully understaffed and undertrained.

Senior CCT staff are astonishingly indifferent and incompetent;

The PHSO legal team are nothing but legal amateurs who play fast and loose with the law like it's a big game. They have unlimited access to fancy lawyers at tax-payer expense;

Mr Behrens and Amanda Campbell both sit in unaccountable splendour, the former larking around doing radio interviews with all and sundry about nothing, and the latter just doing nothing, when they should be taking control;

PACAC is an utter joke that serves purely to rubber-stamp the PHSO's failures at every turn, whilst having a Christmas party that masquerades as a scrutiny meeting;

The Judicial review system was explicitly designed to defer to the 'expertise' (the clowns) at the PHSO and to protect it all costs. Most judges are conservative in every sense of the word and will work to protect and shield the establishment from scrutiny and criticism;

The whole system wants ripping up and replacing with something that works for the people it is currently wholeheartedly and shamefully betraying.

C Rock left an annotation ()

Fully agree Mr Boyce - the charge "PHSO is an organisation that is rotten from top to bottom, and sadly they are being allowed to get away with it by PACAC. They operate with a mixture of gross incompetence, utter disregard, and misconduct of the most serious nature. They HAVE to be stopped because they are causing untold distress to people who deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect" holds particular relevance to me now waiting 9 years for even the smallest consideration of what PHSO claims it does.

I was sickened by their last effort and waited TWO MORE YEARS for Mr Behrens to get his act together and conduct a ground-up review of why people are being harmed by his (corporate) responses to complainants who may have lost kids and close relatives due to the negligence the PHSO continues to protect.

Anyone who has lost a child AFTER making a complaint to the NHS to stop their damaging stupidity and start engaging in their work, will question the moral integrity of a person who declares in summing up a wholly prejudiced report, that their child "would probably have died anyway", needs to step away from their corrupt machinery and take a good look at themselves as responsible managers; and as parents perhaps?

The person who says they've spoken [to the signatories of this disgusting work] and said they're 100% confident in the 'outcome' needs to be pulled from Post. And the weight of so many similar cases is depressing.

There are so many skeletons lurking in this Office nothing but a new broom at the very top will be needed to make that call... 'What possible good am I doing for this Nation?'.

Someone has lost sight of the 'Outcome'. The whole point is about saving lives and not saving face - which is all that is happening with NHS and PHSO complaints corrupt collusion to maintain status quo.

Imho - This is not 'politics' - it's what has been happening for years and well illustrated in the public domain.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear M Boyce

PHSO reference R0000072

Thank you for your correspondence of 14th June 2018.

In order for a request to be a request under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it needs to meet the definition in section 8(1):

(a) is in writing,
(b) states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and
(c) describes the information requested.

Section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines information as “information recorded in any form”. So in order for a request to meet the definition in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it needs to describe information recorded in a public authority’s records.

The questions in your correspondence of 14th June 2018 do not ask for recorded information, and so are not requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

If you wish to submit a request then please do so. Please see ICO guidance on description of information for more details:

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

Regards,

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

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Dear InformationRights,

You are clearly being deliberately obstructive now. I asked for clarification concerning your latest template cover letter for final reports (previously final decisions). The FOIA allows an authority to provide clarification/explanation to requested information. Where this information is confusing (as the information you have sent me is) then you have a public and moral duty to provide this requested clarification/explanation. Your failure to do so speaks for itself. It must now be assumed that the July 2017 template for final reports is the most recent template as I requested the most recent template and you refuse to offer any clarification or explanation. The July 2017 template is clearly failing to inform complainants of their right to request a review of your final reports. This is a deliberate omission (because you are not offering to refute it) of the most serious nature. My investigations will now continue with this as a statement of fact. You promised in writing to PACAC in January 2018 that you would amend your final decision letters (final reports). You have clearly failed to do this from this date. I will repeatedly ask my MP to ask PACAC to investigate this serious matter, and if they continue to refuse this will all be down on record.

Yours sincerely,

M Boyce

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


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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 'Revised guidance note and amendment of decision letters.'.

You sent me the July 2017 update to the final decision letter template. I don't believe that this is the most recent update to the final decision (report) letter template. I believe that the PHSO has deliberately supplied me with incorrect/ not up to date information.

I will today be forwarding this request to the ICO for them to begin an investigation.

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,

M Boyce

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

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm we have received your request.
If you have made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts.
If you have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act.
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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

6 Attachments

Dear M Boyce,

 

Internal Review of Freedom of Information Request

 

I write in response to your email of 27 August in which you request an
Internal Review of our response to your request for information. I have
reconsidered your correspondence and our response to you.

 

Request for an Internal review

 

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 'Revised guidance note and
amendment of decision letters.'.

 

You sent me the July 2017 update to the final decision letter template. I
don't believe that this is the most recent update to the final decision
(report) letter template. I believe that the PHSO has deliberately
supplied me with incorrect/ not up to date information.

 

Timeliness of Response

 

The response to your request was within the 20 working days stipulated by
section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Information Provided

 

On 14 June we responded with:

 

‘We do not have a specific 'final decision letter' which is why this was
not provided to you.

 

The caseworker will produce a draft and final report (now referred to as
‘provisional views’) which will be provided along with a cover letter. The
cover letter is bespoke for each case but the caseworker will use and

amend the template titled '4a Provisional views letter' for the
draft/provisional report to the person affected and use the template
titled '5a cover letter for final report' for the final report to the
person affected.

 

I have attached these templates along with the template for the
draft/final report titled 'provisional views template'.’

 

Having cross checked the templates (covering letters for final report)
provided to you on 14 June with those on the PHSO caseworker case
management system they are not identical documents. I have been advised
that while the versions that were previously provided to you were agreed,
they are not the versions that are on our case management system. The
template covering letters for final reports that are within our case
management system are now attached.

 

Conclusion

 

For the reason set out above I uphold your complaint as incorrect
templates were provided to you in our response. Please accept my apologies
for the error made in the response of 14 June.

 

If you remain unhappy with our response, it is open to you to complain to
the Information Commissioner’s Office ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Andrew Martin

Freedom Of Information/Data Protection Manager

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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References

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

"The caseworker will produce a draft and final report (now referred to as ‘provisional views’)"

From elsewhere:

"In the Alice books, the fact that words can be interpreted in so many different ways makes communication difficult."

M Boyce left an annotation ()

Agreed J Roberts.

The 'clarification ' by the PHSO as usual just makes things even more unclear. How can something that is provisional be final? How can something that is agreed be not agreed? 'Provisional/final' reports on the case work thingymyjig are different to the template 'provisional/final report? Black is white and the Moon is made of cheese.

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