Rob Behrens, Ombudsman is a great believer in transparency. Here he is talking to DAC Beachcroft in 2018, setting out his stall for improvements to PHSO services.
Rob Behrens, PHSO, on transforming the Ombudsman role with shorter process times, being more transparent, and promoting this ‘national asset’.
He believes that transparency engenders trust and if you can’t trust an Ombudsman, the role is redundant. Convincing the public that the service is fair, open and impartial is crucial to the longevity of the service, particularly when you are required to haggle the treasury for additional funds.
We are just 6 months away from the completion of his 3-year strategy and the PACAC annual scrutiny meeting is on the horizon. As in previous years, the committee publish the written evidence in advance of the meeting. And as in previous years, all of the evidence, (bar that submitted by PHSO themselves), tells a different story to that of the Ombudsman.
Who will PACAC believe?
You can see the evidence as it is published on the PACAC website by following this link (It’s not too late to submit your own by following the same link, as the closing date for submissions is the 30th October).
The one which caught my eye was submitted by David Czarnetzki. a concerned citizen who has taken it upon himself to research the value of ‘radio ombudsman’ introduced by Rob Behrens in 2017. Rob Behrens chooses the guests, asks the questions and agrees the final edit. Consequently, Radio Ombudsman allows him to ‘reach out to the public’ in a risk-free manner.
By contrast Twitter allows the public to reach out to him. He responds to this 2-way public interaction by blocking all probing correspondents.
So has Radio Ombudsman reassured the public that their Ombudsman is open and transparent? It would appear from the figures below that it has failed to hit the spot. It is interesting to note that although ‘Radio Ombudsman’ is released through ‘Soundcloud’, an interactive platform, there have only ever been three comments made and the last of these was 2 years ago. Have comments been disabled or are people just despondent with talking to the hand?
Let us give the last word to David Czarnetzki who has drawn this valuable information to the attention of the PACAC committee in good time for proper scrutiny by the only body who can hold the Ombudsman to account.
Page 18 of the Ombudsman’s report to Parliament states:
“The Radio Ombudsman podcast has reached thousands of listeners since it was launched in 2017”.
The Ombudsman hails this as a success story. It is nothing but an example of broad based ‘spin’. Detailed analysis shows a different picture – one of falling interest of the public. Other Ombudsmen working in their own sectors have not followed his lead. The 19 podcasts produced so far have been played a total of 5991 times, broken down as follows:
(Source of statistical information provided by PHSO’s FOI officer).
I conclude this has rapidly become a waste of the Ombudsman’s time and taxpayer’s money. Page 87 of the report shows the Ombudsman has 389 full time equivalent staff. It is clear even they have little interest in using this particular medium of communication.
It is worthy of note the two highest numbers of plays relate to Scott Morrish and James Titcombe – people who imparted direct patient experience. PACAC should be concerned the last four podcasts attracted, on average, less than one third of plays compared to the first five.
It looks like the PHSO’s lack of transparency surrounding the names of clinical advisors is set to continue.
My appeal to the FTT was dismissed:
“31. We therefore find that the legitimate interests put forward by the appellant are overridden by the in-house clinicians’ expectation of privacy, based on the real risk of harassment if their names were published and the distress that this is likely to cause.Although there are legitimate interests in disclosure of the information, these are outweighed by the requirement to protect personal data in this case.”
PHSO’s lack of transparency surrounding the names of clinical advisors looks set to continue.
My appeal to the FTT was dismissed:
” 31. We therefore find that the legitimate interests put forward by the appellant are overridden by the in-house clinicians’ expectation of privacy, based on the real risk of harassment if their names were published and the distress that this is likely to cause.Although there are legitimate interests in disclosure of the information, these are outweighed by the requirement to protect personal data in this case.”
Why would anyone harass a clinician who has given an honest and informed decision?
The responses about anonymity are the classic ‘chicken and egg’ situation. PHSO do not reveal the identity of their clinical advisors for fear they might be subject to harassment. However, it cannot never be ascertained if harassment would occur if clinical advisors were named because they are not. This is administrative justice at its very worst – cloaked in secrecy. PHSO adjudicate on complaints. Forensic scientists and other expert witnesses are named in court trials. Yet another reason not to use this useless PHSO quango and directly sue those responsible who cause harm.
Spot on David
The PHSO has never for one minute considered “the distress that this is likely to cause” to complainants with regard to injustice and harmful practices (e.g. mental abuse; gaslighting; ignoring clear evidenece of negligent procedure; ‘double-speak’) used against complainants despite being made well aware of harms committed in the name of the PHSO “authority holder”. You might have thought that the PHSO incumbent might have had the nous as “new broom” to investigate and put the issues to bed. Just silence and cynical PR rebuttal.
The PHSO system remains opaque, harmful and unaccountable in practical terms. Various corrupt methods have been brought to PHSO’s attention over many years.
Why does the taxpayer have to (1) stump the bill for this, and (2) continue to suffer the same injuries avoidable by listening and learning? PHSO is aware and PACAC is aware… but never questioned – just dismissed year after year.
Well I’m on the Behrens blocked list too, for simply speaking the truth, no just cause to be blocked. He’s just sticking his fingers in his ears and going “la, la, la” to everyone. Because he can. Because he knows PACAC won’t do anything. He is covered. He can sit in his ivory tower misspending public funds and denying justice and remedy to the public, trotting out the same old spin. He’s not fooling anyone. Not even himself. Which is proven by the fact that he blocks people. PHSO is now beyond a joke. He has actively and personally condoned my NHS Trust breaking the law on an ongoing basis. But like I say, he does it because he can. The whole system is rigged against the public, against justice. Sound bites about learning are meaningless and how dare he keep driving for more power and more money when he so blatantly abuses the power he has and misspends our money.
Surely the only people actually playing and listening to these podcasts are the lawyers for hospitals up and down the country?
We’re in the not so exclusive “blocked club” too. When it gets too hot the #PHSO Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman just bale out, like they have here: “Facebook page inactive since 3 Jan 2019”.. So the disgruntled public turned to Trust Pilot. If you’re looking for transparency try here instead: https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.ombudsman.org.uk
Excuse me but PHSO has been “exemplary at showing transparency” for 12 years that I’m aware of (Not). What does this R Behrens not understand about bipolar states? There are 2 states: You are transparent or you are not transparent. You cannot be MORE transparent than Transparent.
Could the PHSO please be honest and quote in ‘degrees of opacity’ so we know where we are please. This guy is just not believable and has demonstrated 100% deceit and 100% opacity in personal “Reviews” of abortive complaint cases (or however as he wishes to interpret that word “Review”… I digress…)
Good point. Saying he wants to be *more* transparent is an admission of not having been transparent in the past (not that anything has changed in that regard). And if you have to attribute levels to your transparency, then what have you been hiding. PHSO transparency is like a net curtain covered in mud splats. You’re supposed to be able to see through it but it’s tarnished with lies, damned lies and statistics. What a job it must be for them constantly trying to manipulate the truth to hide what’s really going on. No wonder PHSO caseworkers don’t know what they’re doing and seem to keep “missing” evidence. They are too busy spinning webs of lies to notice the facts. And we are like the hapless bugs caught in their web.
“being more transparent, and promoting this ‘national asset’” Rob Behrens
The more I read about the PHSO, the more I see it as a shady national dump. Has Rob Behrens not read the reviews on Trustpilot, or is he too busy blocking people on Twitter who make legitimate points? Even in a case study publicised by the PHSO to show how good it is, the truth without the PHSO spin is very different:
“Luckily for me, when I was on the point of giving up, I found J B of Leigh Day & Co. He was sympathetic and came to my rescue by issuing a strong letter before action threatening judicial review proceedings on my behalf. As a result, the PHSO eventually backed down and agreed to consider my case afresh.”
As for transparency, he talks the talk – that’s it. When appearing before PACAC he said that clinical advisers “now get to see evidence”. Although he was referring to a pilot scheme only, the PHSO was unable to provide the information asked for in the following request:
“3. Since the change was implemented, please state the number cases where clinical advisers have been passed evidence.”
And how doe he think removing the table showing the outcome of administrative complaints for 2018/19 from his website promotes transparency?
The table revealed that 5,744 enquiries were received in 2018/19. It also revealed that 3 investigations were fully upheld and that 36 were partly upheld. Why would he not want the public know this!
You and me too Jeff. There can be no illusion about the role of PHSO. Rob Behrens has helped them to close more cases, more quickly. Job done now awaiting his gong of recognition.
The PHSO in 2013/14:
“8.3 PHSO has delivered significant reductions in the time it takes to undertake investigations (an average of 301 days in April 2013, 141 days in January 2014. However, duration remains beyond reasonable expectations.” (page 80 of the document reader)
Click to access FDN%20195280att.pdf
The PHSO in 2019/20
“From April to December 2019–20, we closed cases in an average of 140.8 days.” (para 13)
A focus on timescales is important, but it must not be to the detriment of quality. Sadly, I’ve never seen any evidence that the PHSO was ever about quality. Lots to the contrary, however.
If the PHSO could lop of an average of 160 days per investigation in 2013/14, I think Rob Behrens could manage a few days in 2020/21. Maybe he’s holding back until just before the next big change of the Quango heads so that his ‘achievement’ has greater prominence at the right moment.
Rob Behrens’ contribution in a second:
So: NHS case reported mid-2009 after son’s avoidable death 2008 aggravated by threats from BSMHFT “Care” – response delayed due to NHS opacity – resubmitted later 2009 – dismissed “[Death] not worthwhile investigating…” – put on interminable hold as unresolved – kept this way until Jan 2016 – closed with NHS deciding the outcome despite practitioners involved lying to PHSO (confirmed by SAR to PHSO) lies accepted and unchecked by PHSO – held unresolved again until Behrens “Personal Review” 2017 – actually carried out by unspecified (assumed similarly unqualified) persons but no records kept (confirmed by SAR to PHSO) – response delayed – still unresolved by 100% opaque Behrens response mid 2018 with obligatory added derision. NO this is not your Independent #PHSO leadership.
NB PACAC! Dishonourable discharge would be accepted tomorrow…. followed by cut in funds or total closure of this corrupt “fair and open” interpretation of justice.
My twitter acct below when I try to contact Mr Transparent. This was after 1 tweet I sent to him just asking for the truth. How on earth can he head an organisation that is supposed to work with the NHS Legal Duty of Candour guidelines when he wont even listen?
You can’t follow or see @RobBehrens1884’s Tweets. Learn more
I’ve have a negative post on the Trust Pilot site for the PHSO. If anyone would like to read what I wrote I also pinned it to my Twitter page, and it’s the absolute truth. The Trust and the PHSO both agreed that because the GP hadn’t asked for a CT scan of my husband’s brain when he was admitted in a coma (GS8) to Treliske hospital in March 2012 and that if found brain damage, it wasn’t necessary to give this information to the patient, the patient’s carer/family or indeed write it on the discharge summary to the GP, who did not know my husband had brain damage until I fought to prove that he had, which meant I had to get power of attorney, which meant I didn’t get a further brain scan for my husband until November 2012 and the scan report said the infarcts had taken on a more mature appearance than the earlier brain scan of March that year. I pointed out that if the GP hadn’t asked for a chest X Ray whilst he was in hospital in March, that showed a chest infection which was treated with antibiotics why was this on the discharge summary to the GP? I never got an answer . The PHSO are, in my opinion, corrupt, ineffectual and only there to shut down cases that would harm those at the top. I would never litigate against the NHS, I still believe it’s doing its best, I believe the disasters that are happening come from the fact the system within our NHS has been decimated by the very establishment who purports to be helping the public.
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It says everything that not even the Ombudsman’s own staff can be bothered to listen to his Radio Ombudsman broadcasts. Most recent listening figures of 162, PHSO staff 389!
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inadequately dealt with complaints and major and minor patient harm incidents and injustices have to be placed somewhere and PHSO does the job it was designed to do-bin it and dispose of it as safely as possible- i speak from experience feedback from which was not welcomed despite a catalogue of their own(PHSO) admitted failings
But it’s the harm the PHSO uses to destroy the complainant when the chips are against being transparent, that Behrens shuns from investigating… running scared – and so he should. No matter that it destroys someone’s whole life and retirement even. No matter that NHS resource and private funds have to be consumed in psychological counselling and chemical medications, entirely for the mental damage inflicted by PHSO lies, denigration, derision, delay, assumptions and amateur interpretations not just of plain English but of critically negligent clinical practice… now carried out over 12 years. Excuse my ‘French’ but “bloody fools” comes close to PHSO description. Sick of it and never ending. They just mock and delight in it, judging by the looks and PR expense.
WHY is the PHSO so scared and averse to having a complaint procedure? He’ll need a hell’uva a clipboard if ever instigated; that’s for sure.