Steps taken to combat PHSO complainant abuse (2)

C Rock made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In the interests of transparency and public benefit, please can you tell me what steps the PHSO is taking to tackle current and historic harm committed on complainants including those who by necessity have withdrawn from expectation of unprejudiced and fair service and due recompense for that harm, in line with PHSO published aims and HM Government’s intent for that department?

Previous requests on this topic have proved unsatisfactory and resulted in no action.

In this context, you may wish to note that despite many previous FOI questions on these matters including direct approaches, the PHSO has yet to show advance or initiative. It is unlikely that I personally shall ever recover from such abuse.

The PHSO has been made aware of the effects of these common harms yet successive PHSOs have arrogantly dismissed complainants being “just unhappy” with PHSO service, this adding fuel to a contempt shown for complainants already devastated by dire result of NHS negligence.
NB: The current PHSO has been made aware (Behrens, October 2017, and again since that time) of serious harm committed on complainants in the execution of enquiries into serious NHS negligence complaints.

Harm arises—for example—from: derision of efforts made by complainant to obtain evidence or to obtain PHSO response; PHSO fabrication and assumption placed on the complainant in order to be later dismissed or derided as ‘expectation’ of NHS or PHSO services are of course extremely harmful to the complainant. This, often compounded by clear and relentless breaches of PHSO Principles regarding bias, integrity and transparency; failure to follow through findings against previous actions; PHSO’s use of unsubstantiated or ‘covert’ NHS ‘evidence’; PHSO refusal to quote sources of accusation; acute bias in lay or ‘amateur’ interpretation; imposition unrealistic deadline or ‘agenda’ to close complaints with nil regard to due diligence all add to the harm and damage to complainant, resulting in sleep deprivation over years, the need for medication and NHS or private psychological counselling for sleep disturbance, severe depression and as noted, anecdotally, suicidal thought.

My interest in this matter: I have personally suffered under repeated tactics all refused investigation by successive PHSOs including the present. Following a painfully extended complaint 2009 – 2018 into NHS negligent care and ignored complaints leading up to son’s death, involving prolonged and disturbing NHS and PHSO hostility, a personal letter (2018) from R Behrens PHSO declared his intent that such complaints would not be investigated—and effectively closed-off as of that date. Complaints therefore were dismissed and unresolved yet I am hearing more and more cases of PHSO harm from other complainants who publicly or privately declare similar experience.

The PHSO has in my opinion a severe problem of candour and credibility in failing to address a critical issue raised too many times.

Yours faithfully,

C Rock

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s
(PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm
we have received your request. If you have made a request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information
Regulations 2004, we will respond to your request within 20 working days
in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts. If you
have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your
request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions
of the Data Protection Act 2018 and will be responded to within one
calendar month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the
Act. We may contact you before this time if we require further
clarification or if we need to extend the time required to complete your
request. For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal
information via secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To
access the information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to
our secure email service. Details can be found on our website using the
link below:
https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you
will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as
possible. Angharad Jackson Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director
Information Assurance Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman PHSO CityGate 47-51 Mosley Street Manchester M2 3HQ
[email address]

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I grant PHSO a short extension to my question due to Christmas break and possible influence of current pandemic.
Response due in 8 working days please.

Yours faithfully,

C Rock

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s
(PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm
we have received your request. If you have made a request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information
Regulations 2004, we aim to 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 we aim to respond within one calendar
month in accordance with the statutory time frame set out in the Act. We
may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if
we need to extend the time required to complete your request.

Please note that we are currently experiencing a high demand, and might
not be able to comply with the statutory deadline for your request. Any
late responses can be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office:

https://ico.org.uk/

For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via
secure email, unless you instruct us differently. To access the
information on the email we send, you will need to sign up to our secure
email service. Details can be found on our website using the link below:
https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...
If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you
will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as
possible. Angharad Jackson Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director
Information Assurance Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman PHSO CityGate 47-51 Mosley Street Manchester M2 3HQ
[email address]

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C Rock,

 

RE: Your information request: FOI116

 

Thank you for your email of 21 December 2020 in which you have requested
information from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
Your request has been processed in accordance with Freedom of Information
Act 2000 (FOIA). Please accept our apologies for the delay in our
response.

 

You requested the following information

 

‘In the interests of transparency and public benefit, please can you tell
me what steps the PHSO is taking to tackle current and historic harm
committed on complainants including those who by necessity have withdrawn
from expectation of unprejudiced and fair service and due recompense for
that harm, in line with PHSO published aims and HM Government’s intent for
that department?

 

Previous requests on this topic have proved unsatisfactory and resulted in
no action.

 

In this context, you may wish to note that despite many previous FOI
questions on these matters including direct approaches, the PHSO has yet
to show advance or initiative. It is unlikely that I personally shall ever
recover from such abuse.

 

The PHSO has been made aware of the effects of these common harms yet
successive PHSOs have arrogantly dismissed complainants being “just
unhappy” with PHSO service, this adding fuel to a contempt shown for
complainants already devastated by dire result of NHS negligence.

NB: The current PHSO has been made aware (Behrens, October 2017, and again
since that time) of serious harm committed on complainants in the
execution of enquiries into serious NHS negligence complaints.

 

Harm arises—for example—from: derision of efforts made by complainant to
obtain evidence or to obtain PHSO response; PHSO fabrication and
assumption placed on the complainant in order to be later dismissed or
derided as ‘expectation’ of NHS or PHSO services are of course extremely
harmful to the complainant. This, often compounded by clear and relentless
breaches of PHSO Principles regarding bias, integrity and transparency;
failure to follow through findings against previous actions; PHSO’s use of
unsubstantiated or ‘covert’ NHS ‘evidence’; PHSO refusal to quote sources
of accusation; acute bias in lay or ‘amateur’ interpretation; imposition
unrealistic deadline or ‘agenda’ to close complaints with nil regard to
due diligence all add to the harm and damage to complainant, resulting in
sleep deprivation over years, the need for medication and NHS or private
psychological counselling for sleep disturbance, severe depression and as
noted, anecdotally, suicidal thought.

 

My interest in this matter: I have personally suffered under repeated
tactics all refused investigation by successive PHSOs including the
present. Following a painfully extended complaint 2009 – 2018 into NHS
negligent care and ignored complaints leading up to son’s death, involving
prolonged and disturbing NHS and PHSO hostility, a personal letter (2018)
from R Behrens PHSO declared his intent that such complaints would not be
investigated—and effectively closed-off as of that date. Complaints
therefore were dismissed and unresolved yet I am hearing more and more
cases of PHSO harm from other complainants who publicly or privately
declare similar experience.

 

The PHSO has in my opinion a severe problem of candour and credibility in
failing to address a critical issue raised too many times.’

 

Response

 

We can confirm that PHSO does not hold the information you have requested.
We have interpreted your request to be regarding situations where you
believe complainants have been harmed by PHSO during our consideration of
their complaints. To clarify and confirm, the PHSO does not consider
itself to have abused any complainants. As you may know, the FOI Act
provides a right of access to recorded information held by a public body
subject to any exemptions. Under the FOI Act, PHSO is under no obligation
to create new information or offer explanation in response to a FOI
request, unless the information requested exist at the time of the
request.

 

To provide advice and assistance in line with Section 16 of the FOI Act,
you may find our Service Model policy and guidance helpful as it sets out
the framework used by staff when communicating decisions to complainants.
You may find the resolution section of the Service Model Main Guidance
explains when PHSO considers a case to be resolved.

 

We have provided a link to this document below:

 

[1]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/co...

 

We hope you have found this information helpful. If you believe we have
made an error in the way we have processed your information request, you
can request an internal review. To do this please email
[2][PHSO request email] and included details of your
concerns so we can consider them further.

 

If you remain dissatisfied following the outcome of the internal review,
you would have the option to complain directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office. Details of how to do this can be found on their
website [3]www.ico.org.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E: [4][PHSO request email]

W: [5]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

References

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Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

"To clarify and confirm, the PHSO does not consider
itself to have abused any complainants".

Well they would say that, wouldn't they, but the truth is, they do.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The reviews on Trustpilot cast a shadow over the PHSO claims:

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Jan minutes:

'3.6 Alan Graham asked about external perceptions of the organisation and whether these had changed. Amanda Amroliwala said that there remained a small group of vocal and challenging critics who were unlikely to ever be supportive. However, we had made good progress in terms of our standing with other regulators, the bodies we investigate, and with the wider Ombudsman community.'

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

According to Trustpilot, the number of vocal and challenging critics is growing.

All minutes:

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

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Steps taken to combat PHSO complainant abuse (2)'.

My question was “Please can you tell [from recorded data] what steps the PHSO is taking to tackle current and historic harm committed on complainants?

This was a follow-up to my question of 10th Oct 2020 “Steps taken to combat stigma, discrimination and mental abuse”. On that occasion your response was indeterminate and I had to mark as ‘Refused’. I am enquiring if the position was changed or clarified since that time, due to the significance and potential impact of continued abuse.

Your researched response was
“[the] PHSO does not hold the information you have requested”
This tells me that the position appears unchanged: I.E. there being ‘No recorded action / initiative on tackling… harm committed on complainants’.

I must call PHSO FOI to order however (under FOI Rules) in that I did not seek personal opinion on, or interpretation of my question, and I must request review of your response.

I cannot account for your late postulation on my question and have to ignore any personal opinion shown in this.

I am also expected to tolerate your personal presupposition of PHSO innocence in confusing matters more, in somewhat gratuitous and unproven opinion “to clarify…the PHSO does not consider itself to have abused any complainants” –which appears to me to insinuated denial of such—and the more obscure, since I also asked for your response in due consideration of:

i. In the interests of transparency and public benefit.
ii. In line with Government aims for its services including the PHSO which, broadly, might be the expectation that Services should operate within the laws of the land and observe statutory requirements of all businesses and services operating therein without exemption.
iii. With recognition of exampled harms perpetrated on a PHSO Service user.
iv. With recognition that such complaints be investigated promptly, thoroughly, fairly, with candour and, similarly, within the laws of the land.
v. In view of actual complaints of harm as made known to the PHSO (ostensibly as in many other cases of complaint), it is hardly sufficient or proper for the PHSO not to record these cases or, worse, to disallow reporting of these for investigation quite separate from the primary complaint which attracted that exploitation.
vi. In line with FOI terms of clarity and neutrality.

As I noted in the context of my question, the PHSO (in “not considering itself to have abused… [Complainants]”) has actively blocked service complaints of abuse for many years; has frequently been asked to investigate them; has refused consistently to investigate in line with expectation of candour.

The PHSO Service Model does not appear to cover this situation and (as with your own free opinion) attempts to sidestep all legal responsibility for harm, with no system for determining disability, harm or lasting effect on complainant or, ultimately, on PHSO Value. This may need to be be raised in a separate FOI question.

I am therefore dismayed that the PHSO shows no further interest. Thank you for confirming this.

A review is requested please.

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

Yours faithfully,

C Rock

Dear PHSO Information Rights,

A contact to point out that today is 20th March and this complaint is still in PHSO domain for investigation as to FOI candour and considered overdue. Please can you estimate a response date?

The PHSO has been advised many times of abuse and harm committed and that should not be in question; yet still denied without support of PHSO Policy in the matter.

Yours sincerely,

C Rock

Dear 'Information Rights',

Please urge your response to this request and in full context of the quoted PHSO strapline: "The PHSO does not consider itself to have abused any complainants" while refusing point blank to investigate the harm it has caused and does still cause.

Please give the PHSO's justification of the quote above or provide evidence for its assertion by the PHSO. It appears illegal to me that while there is clear evidence of harm as notified to PHSO leaders , managers, even Customer Service, but no attempt to investigate and not even interest show in the harm perpetuated.

In fact your statement appears to mock the very idea of Customer Service, or that PHSO should be responsible and liable for harm caused by its own unaccountable and opaque processes.

Your review is overdue, I believe.

Yours sincerely,

C Rock

C Rock left an annotation ()

Abuse by the PHSO takes many forms and I would be glad to list these at the risk of repeating what's already been published here and elsewhere.

Oddy, the DHSC -another government funded department say they take complaints very seriously:

DHSC Complaints procedure:

"We take complaints about our work, staff and levels of service very seriously. If you are not satisfied, please follow the process for raising a formal complaint.

> What complaints we can and can’t deal with
> How to make a formal complaint about DHSC
> What happens next
> What to do if you’re not satisfied"

...and yet the PHSO, far from taking complaints seriously - still quotes:

"The PHSO does not consider itself to [abuse] any complainants"

..so why does one government department claim it's very serious about complaints while another can abuse and dismiss without interest?

I must admit I have not had the need to question the DHSC's complaint procedure as yet so cannot account for any success or otherwise.

The PHSO simply does not have a complaint procedure because it 'doesnt need one'.

Try making a complaint about work, staff and levels of service and you get short shrift if not downright rudeness.... which you will not be able to complain about.

There appears to be a similarity between PHSO condoning 'acceptable abuse' from negligent NHS care, and negligent PHSO care which then expects persons to "manage their expectations" of PHSO service; so demeaning itself to a position of low-to-zero expectations, IMHO.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

You might be interested in this PHSO submission regarding proposals contained in a recent White Paper:

'4.6 There is a danger that a patient or their family member, when pursuing a complaint about failings in treatment, could find that a contradictory account had been given by a witness –one to HSSIB in safe space that is not seen by the Ombudsman and another to the Ombudsman about what happened and why. This could lead to the Ombudsman making incorrect or incomplete recommendations for either individual or systemic remedy.

6.2 However, the unique constitutional role of the Ombudsman demands that PHSO has access to the information held within safe space for the specific purposes of examining failings, to preserve the Ombudsman’s independence, autonomy and ability to undertake fair and thorough investigations.'

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

C Rock left an annotation ()

Very interesting, but I don't see how it more greatly assures or even promotes independence or removes the risk PHSO will not be able to carry out full and effective investigations any more than at current time in their amateur position, where even PHSO refuses to release sources of conflicting information used in prejudice against complainant and abusing them of rights to respond and especially where by denials or mockeries a mental abuse is further committed.