Why are Welsh complainants allowed to know the names of advisors, while they are kept secret from English complainants?

Jt Oakley made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am asking for any files etc, available under Foi, on the decision made by the PHSO to deny English complainants knowledge of the names and qualifications on the advisors on their cases - especially the clinical ones, on NHS complaints.

This is an opening paragraph on the Decision on my complaint undertaken by the a Welsh Ombudsman:

THE INVESTIGATION
Given the clinical issues that your complaint raised, advice was sought from one of the Ombudsman‟s Nursing Advisers Mrs Chris McFarlane (“the Adviser”) who is an experienced senior nurse. Information was also sought from the former LHB and the Health Board. I also considered the documentation that both you, the LHB and theHealth Board provided. Finally, whilst I have not included in this report every detail investigated, I am satisfied that nothing of significance has been overlooked.

As you can see, the clinical advisor on the case is named.

Yet the PHSO, which investigates complaints about the English NHS, refuses to allow complainants to know the names of those advising on their complaints.

The reasons being the privacy of investigators and that their 'safety might be compromised' if complainants knew who was investigating their complaint.

Therefore it would seem that English complainants have been assessed at some point to be more belligerent and less intelligent about providing reasonable and measured responses to advisors, than Welsh complainants.

Could you please explain the reasons for this assumed cultural difference - there must be some decision on record - as both are UK Ombudsmen and surely all UK citizens are equal and should therefore be entitled to the same amount of information on the way that their complaints are investigated?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Seems to me the Advisors should be responsible for their decisions. Yet it seems that the PHSO are well aware that the Advisors have made some horrendously inaccurate reports - perhaps this is why they are 'protecting them'?

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Wasn’t there an Equalities Act passed in 2010!

Dear foiofficer,

Please only reply via this website.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

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

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Surely the ex chairman of both the Equal Opportunities Commission - Dame Julie Mellor- knows discrimination when she sees it?

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms [first name redacted]-Oakley

Your information request (FDC-183136)

I write further to your email of 25 January 2014.

You have asked for ‘any files etc, available under Foi, on the decision made by the PHSO to deny English complainants knowledge of the names and qualifications on the advisors on their cases - especially the clinical ones, on NHS complaints.’

You also highlighted the fact that the Welsh Public Services Ombudsman releases the names of their clinicians and asked if we could ‘explain the reasons for this assumed cultural difference - there must be some decision on record - as both are UK Ombudsmen and surely all UK citizens are equal and should therefore be entitled to the same amount of information on the way that their complaints are investigated?’

I have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We do not hold any recorded information that would answer your questions. This is because PHSO does not ‘deny English complainants knowledge of the names and qualifications’ of our professional advisers.

Under section 16 of the Act (Advice and Assistance) I can confirm that historically PHSO has always named its clinical advisers and provided their qualifications in its final investigation reports. In cases which were not subject to a statutory investigation by the Ombudsman (assessments), we usually provided that information on request unless there were overriding reasons not to.

As we deliver more investigations for more of our customers in line with our strategy, it remains the case that we routinely provide our customers with the qualifications of the clinical advisers who have commented on their case. We also continue to name them in some of our investigation reports. However, where they have not been named we would consider a request for this information on a case by case basis and in line with information legislation. Clearly, we would treat a request of this kind with parity and without regard to the nationality of the requester.

I hope this clarification was helpful.

Yours sincerely

Luke Whiting
Head of FOI/DP

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for legal purposes.
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NIla B left an annotation ()

I am in total agreement with CA Purkis. It does appear that the PHSO has much to hide and not being accountable to anyone hads given them additional powers it seems to dismiss NHS complaints and the distress it causes to patients.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Join the very long queue Nila...

As I have experience of both the Welsh and English (PHSO) Ombudsman , the difference in the way complaints are handled is shocking.

Why English complainants put up with this poor level of service, I really don't know.

Della left an annotation ()

This answer doesn't match that given to D. Rapp recently by PHSO namely:
However, I have concluded that it would not be fair to release the names
or GMC numbers for “any and all doctors” used as clinical advisors by the
PHSO, as these members of staff do not operate in public-facing roles and
therefore have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The names and GMC
numbers of our clinical advisers is their personal data and consequently
it is exempt information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000. Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption, so there is no need to
apply the public interest test.

Read full account here and I think you will soon see the discrepancy. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Even though government organisations would have it that they have it all roped off, the legal decision is that each case is different.

So, surely of the names of junior staff can be revealed,
well-respected clinicians need not fear their names and qualifications being in the public view?

Or is the PHSO terrified that these well-respected clinicians etc do not have the qualifications that will stand up to scrutiny on the particular cases they are asked to investigate?

::::::::

In various of the Documents the MOJ wishes to redact certain names of individual civil servants pursuant to s40(2) (exemption for personal data).

In this context we draw attention to what the Tribunal said in Dun v IC and National Audit Office EA/2010/0060, 18 January 2011, at [40]:

The Tribunal does not accept that there is a blanket level at which all junior civil servants are shielded from disclosure of their personal data. This has to be decided on a case by case basis, through consideration of the role and responsibilities of the individual and the information itself.

Par58.

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

D Rapp left an annotation ()

I just noticed something. Luke Whiting either just lied, made up the facts, or didn't do his homework.

He wrote that historically the PHSO has always named it's advisers. He wrote that on the 21st of February 2014.

Mr Whiting should have been aware that in my complaint, the clinical adviser was not named. That investigation was concluded in January 2014. If Mr Whiting is being candid, then I should know the name of the clinical adviser in my complaint. I do not. Therefore I must conclude that Mr Whiting is either mistaken or misleading.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I really don't know why the clinical advisors are so shy.

In a British court law they are seen in public.

Anyone would think that they are ashamed of their qualifications, or that their qualifications don't stand up to scrutiny for the particular cases that they are asked to investigate. So complainants could mount a challenge if so.

::

The Ombudsman is an inquisitorial system.

It's not the same as a court but this is the principle:

...In the inquisitorial system, the judge, in essence, conducts public inquisition/investigation of crime. The judge can question witnesses, interrogates suspects, orders searches for other or further investigations, and finally declare the verdict and decide on the penalty.

Their role is not to prosecute the accused, but to gather facts to reach the correct verdict, and as such their duty is to look for any and all evidence, incriminating or exculpatory.

When declaring verdict, the judge must also release the reasoning explaining the verdict.

That seems fair, because the explanatory verdict means complainants can appeal.

But the PHSO does but provide the reasoning... Secrecy right down to the anonymous clinical advisors.

Just the 'Case Closed' letter. 'And get lost ..because we are not telling you why '.

And that is why every complainant fails at a judicial enquiry.

If the PHSO does not have to explain how it reaches it's decision and then can apply the famously unfair 'discretion' on top of this complainants have no chance.

* discretion meaning ...'.whatever we say goes'.

MJ left an annotation ()

In my case, on receiving my PHSO file, the clinical adviser's identity was redacted. In error one of the documents was not redacted, and thus disclosed his identity.

On looking the adviser up on the GMC, I find he has 9 significant conditions against his registration - all relevant to his failings in my case.

It is absolutely essential and in the public and complainants' best interest that the identity is routinely disclosed. It is not currently disclosed even when one directly requests it - as I did.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

On looking the adviser up on the GMC, I find he has 9 significant conditions against his registration - all relevant to his failings in my case.

:::::

That's shocking MJ......But not unexpected.

It does seem that the PHSO is non too careful about who it employes as clinical advisors. And that's why they must remain anonymous.

::::

If you think of the number if disciplines within a hospital, it's not likely they can find the correct medics to review each medically complex complaint.

On top of this, any good doctor/ nurse/ consultant is going to be practising, or at least involved in real health care in some way.

So, from this - and the views of other complainants, it seems as if the PHSO may be employing medical 'experts' who cannot get work elsewhere.

Therefore:

1. The NHS is being policed by people via the PHSO who can't get work in it - and therefore are forced to work as 'clinical experts' , on cases in which they are not specialists.

2. If they are retired, they seem to be NHS apologists..the complainant MUST wrong because the NHS that they knew and loved was wonderful.

3. The bitter egotistical type.

(Just likes ignoring the points you have made).

You can tell this from the extraordinary diagnosis......

One 'expert' decided my father had died from a heart attack, even though his death certificate - written by the attendant doctor - did not mention one.

Neither did he have any history of heart problems. None were in any medical notes.

But obviously this meant that no nursing staff could be at fault.

The Ombudsman accepted this weird diagnosis without comment - despite my objection.

Because the Ombudsmen do not appear to have any specialist employees, specialist enough to challenge the non-specialists - being employed as specialists.

:::

Your 'experts' history should give you plenty of scope to appeal.

But the likelihood is that the review team will say its 'not new evidence'.

And you will get the 'Get lost a Dimbo - and don't bother us again with your footling facts' letter.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

At long last,it looks like the English Ombudsmen services will now catch up with the other British Ombudsmen and provide a service matching those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Pasc:Time for a People’s Ombudsman Service

45. The
Ombudsman (PHSO) means it is unable to meet the standard set by Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and elsewhere. An ineffective instrument of democratic accountability cannot remedy failures in public service delivery.

PHSO is impeded by out-of-date legislation so it fails to meet the expectations of today’s citizens. It is, as Scotland’s Public Service Ombudsman put it, in danger of being “stuck in time”. The UK needs new legislation.

The Ombudsman should be seen as a People’s Ombudsman service as well as Parliament’s Ombudsman.