Right to request an external reviewer

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Your wrote:

'A customer may request a review by an external reviewer. However, the decision to allocate a case to an external reviewer remains with PHSO.'

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

Please provide for each of the three past years:

i. The number of requests received requesting that a review be conducted by an external reviewer;

ii. the number of these requests that were granted;

iii. details of who of decides whether to grant the request; and,

iv. details of the procedure for notifying the requester whether his or her request has been granted.

Include copies of all standard documents used throughout the process.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

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phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

When PHSO make the decision to appoint an external reviewer or not it makes a mockery of giving the 'customer' a choice. It's like asking for beans and getting peas because that's what the chef thought would be good for you. ( or good for them). We can see from this request that very few people were provided with an external reviewer in 2013 -14 though I doubt that the number of requests went down. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

It will be interesting to see the actual figures.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The description 'customer' rather makes a mockery of the whole process.

It's as if you can take your 'custom' to a similar ' company' somewhere else....

As the PHSO is the only choice complainants have for this process.

And then it controls the outcome of your 'custom' at every process.

And forget about 'customising' your case.

As it stops 'customers' from getting fair assessments in their cases from supposedly 'independent' assessors, should they require sensible explanations of why their cases failed.

:::

And if 'customers' manage to jump this hurdle , it's not any better even if you proceed to get a investigation of your case by the PHSO's internal investigations department,

This department sets deadlines for comments from BOTH 'customer' and the organisation complained about.

Then produces a 'Final report' on an investigation BEFORE the deadline date - leaving 'customers' without Input.

And if you complain - and force a second Final Final Report?

The ' customer's' input points receive minimal consideration.

So 'customer' ?

Delete 'customer' - insert 'forced purchase' by 'victim'.

And finally replace 'victim' by 'dupe'.

....For believing that your 'custom' is in any way valuable to the the PHSO.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Mockery is a word that keeps springing up. My caseworker was clearly biased and incompetent. She attempted to get me to withdraw my case at the outset, and gave me her personal opinion as to why she thought my complaint was unnecessary before she had even looked at all the evidence. My requested review for an external reviewer was totally ignored. The new and improved PHSO?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Q21 Chair: How can an unsatisfied complainant persuade you that their case ought to be externally reviewed? Will that become something that you can provide?

Q25 Chair: I think your answer is “no”; you are not going to do this for the
moment. You are not going to say to complainants, “Okay, you can have an
external review.” You do not feel you can do that.'

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

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts

 

Thank you for your email of 26 October 2014 in which you requested
information in the following terms:

 

'A customer may request a review by an external reviewer. However, the
decision to allocate a case to an external reviewer remains with PHSO.'

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

Please provide for each of the three past years:

i.  The number of requests received requesting that a review  be conducted
by an external reviewer;

ii.  the number of these requests  that were granted;

iii.  details of who of decides  whether to grant the request; and,

iv.  details of the procedure for notifying the requester whether his or
her request has been granted. 

Include copies of all standard documents used throughout the process. 

 

First, it may be useful if I provide some further information on the use
of external reviewers at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
(PHSO).  The PHSO uses external reviewers to review some cases where the
complexity or sensitivity of a case highlights a need for an external
perspective.  External reviewers are also used by the PHSO as an
additional resource to the review process, rather than as an alternative
process of review.  The use of external reviewers allows the PHSO to
better utilise its employee resources to facilitate timely responses to
individuals.

 

I am unable to provide you with any information with regard to part (i) of
your request, as we do not record when an individual requests for a review
to be conducted by an external reviewer.  As highlighted, the use of
external review occurs in specific circumstances, and is part of the
review process rather than an alternative to it.  Accordingly the PHSO
only records information relating to the review process as a whole, rather
than requests for reviews to be undertaken by specific individuals.

 

That being said, the PHSO does record information regarding the number of
times external reviewers have conducted a review.  The figures for the
last four years are:

 

1 April 2011 – 31 March 2012: 261 reviews undertaken by external
reviewers;

1 April 2012 – 31 March 2013: 202 reviews undertaken by external
reviewers;

1 April 2013 – 31 March 2014: 25 reviews undertaken by external reviewers;
and

1 April 2014 – 26 October 2014: 25 reviews undertaken by external
reviewers.

 

Although the PHSO does not hold any recorded information in relation to
part (iii) of your request, I can tell you that the Head of the Review
Team is responsible for deciding when a request for review is sent to an
external reviewer. Factors she will consider include the number of
available internal staff and/or the sensitivity of the case.

 

Turning finally to part (iv) of your request, I am unable to provide you
with a procedure for notifying an individual that their request for
external review has or has not been granted, as a procedure, policy or any
other process document on this subject does not exist.  I can tell you
though that the PHSO writes to individuals to advise if their case has
been accepted for review following every request for review. 

 

I hope you find this information helpful.  If you have any further
questions, or would like to ask for a review of my decision you can email
me at [1][email address].

 

Regards

 

David Thomas

FOI/Data Protection Officer

 

show quoted sections

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

References

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shirley gardner left an annotation ()

the more I read about the inner workings of the P.H.S.O
the more I am convinced they ad-lib and are not fit to serve the very people that need the service they should be providing.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

As noted by J. Roberts, the Chairman of PASC, Mr Bernard Jenkin, raised the question of "external review" at last week's scrutiny session with the Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, in relation to the "tiny number that would finish up asking for such a review, but it would give assurance to those people that it was an independent review and it was not just you validating your own decision".

It has recently been put to the Ombudsman and PASC that one option would be to allow dissatisfied complainants to have the right to ask for an external independent review by transfer of their case to the European Ombudsman. The thinking behind this proposal lies in the fact that the European Ombudsman proposed to the Constitutional Convention the adoption of an Article on ombudsman-co-operation and transferrals which would allow national ombudsmen to transfer a case involving fundamental rights (e.g. Art 6 (right to a fair hearing)) under Union law to be dealt with by the European Ombudsman.

The European Ombudsman sits at the apex of the network of ombudsman in Europe and was a driving force for the insertion of a fundamental right to good administration in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The UK, for reasons unknown, has not adopted this provision. It would require our Ombudsman to have regard to an authoritative definition of maladministration accepted by the European Ombudsman which includes unlawful activity and errors of legal reasoning and interpretation, failure to respect a legal rule or principle, the principles of good administration or fundamental rights and a right to legal certainty in decision-making.

The European Ombudsman has been working towards binding and uniform rules on good administrative behaviour across Member States. Co-operation through the network covers both complaint handling (transfers) and information to citizens. Significantly, the decisions of the European Ombudsman can be appealed to the European Court of Justice and, in the case of human rights cases, to the European Court of Human Rights.

At a November 2007 Council of Europe conference the then Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, presented a paper: “The role of the Ombudsman in the implementation of principles of good administration in the UK” which included the following statements:

“The desire to make human rights part of everything we do informs the work my Office has been undertaking to incorporate human rights considerations into our investigation of complaints. Our focus has been on raising awareness that human rights frequently affect the daily lives of many people seeking access to public services. I have also taken the opportunity to promote this approach in my discussions with Ombudsman colleagues in Europe. I spoke in Vienna at a General Assembly of the European Region of the International Ombudsman Institute last year; and I have just returned from a Round Table of European Ombudsmen and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights in Athens where we explored, amongst other things, the scope for co-operation between Ombudsmen and National Human Rights Institutions. I enclose a copy of my Vienna speech to give you a flavour of the sort of approach that I am seeking to take and that will shape my future approach to complaints touching upon the human rights of people …… Relevant too are the Principles of Good Administration recently published by my Office........We need to follow up the launch of the Principles by first of all making sure that PHSO practices what it preaches, that we implement the Principles internally. And to keep awareness of the Principles high so that public bodies in jurisdiction have regard to them and put them into practice. We want the Principles to become second nature for those involved in public service”

The above passage was quoted in a Petition presented by PHSO Pressure Group to the European Parliament on 5 November 2014 http://phsothefacts.com/petition-to-e-u/ . It was necessary to point out that:

"There is a sufficient body of evidence to show that the Ombudsman does not practice what it preaches. It systematically breaches rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (procedural such as right to a fair hearing under Art 6)."

All 78 British MEPS have since received a copy of the petition. They have been told that UK citizens have lost confidence in the UK Parliamentary Ombudsman system of administrative justice to protect them against abuse of government power. That they want parity with the best in Europe. This would include best practice in assuring fair and independent external reviews of Ombudsman decisions.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Fact is the Patients Association have lost all faith in PHSO process& not recommending them any more! Somethings got to give!!

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