On 13th December Dame Julie Mellor  informed Mr. Ronnie Cowan at the PACAC scrutiny meeting that,

“…as a result of people getting better explanations, [from the award winning customer care team] fewer people asked us for a review, it was 217 and in 14 cases we have reopened or launched a fresh investigation.  That gives you a sense of the scale and those 14 think it is perfectly proper for it to be done within the organisation.”  Q55 public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/phso-annual-review-201617/oral/44495.pdf

Those 14 may think it perfectly proper to have in-house review, though I doubt that they were asked, but the many individuals who were denied a review may think that an element of bias entered the process.  After all, marking your own homework has never been the most robust means of ensuring an impartial decision.

14 upholds from 217 reviews gives a miserly 6.4% uphold rate, but in fact it is a lot worse than that as many more review requests just disappeared from the figures discussed by Dame Julie Mellor and were not listed in the Annual Report.  The truth is that  1,969 people requested a review  last year which is 164 a month or 37 per week, but the majority of these failed to meet the criteria for review.  From the total number of review requests, the uphold of just 14 now gives a 0.7% chance of overturning a decision at review.  Hardly worth the effort of going through all the paperwork, providing again the evidence which had been ignored and completing a detailed, point by point response.

Given that one of the criteria for review is so common as to be virtually universal it is surprising to find that 89% of the review requests failed to make the final cut namely;

We overlooked or misunderstood parts of the complaint or did not take account of the relevant information, which could change our decision.

And as for making a service complaint about PHSO themselves clearly the award winning Customer Care Team have those totally under control as you can see in the table below.

The fortunate 0.7 % may consider that allowing PHSO to review their own complaint handling is ‘perfectly proper’ but the other 99.3% may be of a different opinion.