By David Czarnetzki
PHSOtheFacts is an eclectic and diverse collection of individuals using their best endeavors to fight a common enemy. The key differences with Dad’s Army are the foe is not an external national threat but an internal one, and we do not have a designated hierarchy – just an excellent coordinator in Della Reynolds who, through this website, provides a platform for factual information and discussion.
I was grateful that my letter to Linda Farrant, Chair of the Audit, Risk and Assurance Committee at PHSO was available to view within the recent blog “Silence is Golden”. I was not expecting to hear back, so imagine my surprise at receiving the following email from PHSO on 22nd June. In the interest of openness and transparency, it is reproduced in full with only the identity of the originator redacted. It should be read in conjunction with my letter to Linda Farrant. You may be shocked by the tone and content.
“This message has been classified as Sensitive.
Dear Mr Czarnetzki
I write in response to your emails of 28 May and 11 June 2021.
You contacted me to notify me that you had written to Ms Farrant on 11 May 2021 raising issues for her to consider with documentary evidence. You imposed deadlines requiring Ms Farrant to acknowledge the letter by 20th May 2021, to advise you by 27 May 2021 if she had an issue with the facts as you described and to provide a formal response by 10th June 2021. Your correspondence to Ms Farrant has now been referred to me to respond.
Your correspondence mentions issues which it is apparent are raised on behalf of ‘PHSOthefacts’. We have been clear in the past as to why we consider the behaviour of ‘PHSOthefacts’ to be unreasonable and that in view of this behaviour it has been necessary to cease to engage with the group and its members.
It is important to say that we have a duty to prioritise the use of our resources and to act proportionately. We will do our best to respond to issues raised by complainants in relation to their own cases and similarly, we will respond to more general issues raised by members of the public where it seems right to do so. We have corresponded extensively with you about your case and the subsequent legal proceedings you issued. On 30 July 2019 the Court ordered your claim to be struck out due to having no legal merit. Since this point, you have written repeatedly to criticise PHSO and its operations.
Given your clear association and identification with ‘PHSOthefacts’ and therefore with their refusal to behave reasonably we must take the same approach to correspondence from you as we do to correspondence from ‘PHSOthefacts’. The Board Members provide PHSO with oversight, leadership and stewardship in relation the governance of the organisation but it is not their role to comment, decide or intervene on individual cases or to correspond with complainants on matters arising from them.
Sending correspondence to Members of the Board and imposing timescales for a response does not change their role and does not oblige them to respond within the timescales you have imposed or at all. Further your characterisation of matters as ‘governance’ matters does not mean that they are, in fact, governance matters. Your complaint that Ms Farrant’s failure to respond amounts to a Board Member ignoring governance matters is rejected.
We will not therefore be providing a response to the points that have been raised in your letter but can say that Miss Farrant nor I have seen any issues of concern with regard to matters raised. Furthermore, we do not accept your views that our not responding amounts to an acceptance of your allegations or a failure in the governance of PHSO.
Our views will not be changed because of threats to make issues public. We consider the correspondence in this matter is now closed and we will not be acknowledging or responding to any further correspondence from you or ‘PHSOthefacts’.
We will continue to review our position with regard to the unreasonable behaviour of ‘PHSOthefacts’ for which of course each individual participating member is personally responsible.
We are not aware of the group ‘NHS Complaints and Investigations’ but would suggest that if they wish to correspond on general matters with the Ombudsman it would not be sensible to do so via members of ‘PHSOthefacts’ while ‘PHSOthefacts’ maintains its current stance.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman”
On receiving the email, my original thought was “We’re doomed” but that soon became “Don’t panic”. The Ombudsman has confirmed what we already suspected. Not only is his animosity directed at Della Reynolds personally, but also at anyone who has the temerity to seek help and support from us.
This bullying response, unworthy of the office holder, is nothing more than a deliberate distraction tactic and should be seen for what it is. The points raised in the letter sent by Della Reynolds to the PHSO Governing Board and the letter to Linda Farrant are skillfully ignored. Personally, I have never, in all my correspondence with the Ombudsman, descended to his level of abuse, yet I find myself ‘tainted by association’ in his eyes.
This is what develops when absolute power is vested inappropriately. It leads to the insults clearly articulated in the e mail. As far as I am able to ascertain, there is no Parliamentary procedure for removal of the Ombudsman from office. No facility to appoint a Government Inspector as recently happened to Liverpool Council. No oversight other than the scrutiny session to receive the Ombudsman’s report by PACAC, the last using only 90 minutes of the two hours allocated.
Michael Gove, Cabinet Office, has no plans for Ombudsman reform before and including 2023-24. What he should do is set up an independent enquiry into this failed organization now. In the meantime, Mr.Behrens should pack up his troubles in an old kit bag and leave the stage.
If you contact the Ombudsman, as far as association with PHSOtheFacts is concerned “Don’t tell him Pike!”.
Footnote: For the record, the reference to my own case in the letter to Linda Farrant referred to my health service complaint to PHSO and not a subsequent court case. The comment that the county court case I presented against PHSO had no legal merit is a play on words. What the County Court Judge actually said was “I have no jurisdiction to hear the case”.
What really stands out to me, is the labelling of “PHSOthefacts” as unreasonable, when we are all individuals and are responsible for our own behaviour. There is no uniform unacceptable behaviour from PHSOthe facts members (not unless you count politely exposing dishonest practice at PHSO as such). There may be one or two individual cases where members of the group have used swear words on Twitter to comment on PHSO, but that does not mean the entire group should be labelled as unreasonable or behaving unacceptably. Considering that a polite question or comment direct at Rob Behrens on Twitter will get the person blocked immediately, we have to question just what exactly it is that PHSO considers unacceptable behaviour. But of course we know, this is simply an excuse to ignore valid complainants and difficult questions or points made. Mr Behrens and staff, please know, that sticking your head in the sand or putting your fingers in your ears won’t make people that you have denied justice, go away. The group will grow and our voices get louder.
It’s so difficult to comment after these excellent comments. I’m just a mum who dared to ask for justice for my son who died an avoidable death 10 years ago in the NHS. The PHSO agreed it was avoidable but did nothing…as it seems they mostly do.
Along with Della’s group I also am condemned for asking awkward questions Mr B refuses to answer. As though it’s my fault my son is dead…. ? Isn’t it normal to want to know what happened? Wouldn’t anyone want to know? Why is it naughty to ask questions?
It is becoming so prevalent in Government now as to be common place that those who can make changes won’t. What are they fearful of, democracy? Or the truth? Of loosing face? Who knows what goes on in their tiny little minds.
One day life will catch up with them and then they will know what it is like to be pilloried for telling the truth.
LikeLiked by 1 person
The truth will out .sadly for some too or very late
.sadly this corrupt organisation is a massive obstacle to ANY KIND OF JUSTICE, LEARNING, CHANGE..all equally vital
Great to see you all fighting. As you know I stepped back after phso basically agreed with most of my complaints about them but then refused to engage with me in how they will learn and respond. I am still awaiting tohear from or happy to feedback to the Board but that route was blocked by Mr Behrens who when meeting me clearly had not read key matters of my case , he was there to meekly apologise, sign off and move on from. Nothing can change there with these kinds of people in charge.
There is a refusal to learn, which is now defined as ‘institutional corruption’. https://davidallengreen.com/2021/06/the-meaning-of-institutional-corruption-how-the-daniel-morgan-independent-panel-set-about-defining-the-term/
Good to hear from you Richard. The particular leopard that is PHSO is incapable of changing it’s spots. The developing thread of ‘institutional corruption’ being developed by David Allen Green, a respected Times journalist might provide a clear path forward. His website is well worth following on the subject
It seems that the PHSO have shot themselves in the foot by displaying for all the world to see the vindictive and arrogant nature of the organisation and those who work for it. Sadly complainants are usually unaware of the true nature of the PHSO until it is far too late, when they discover that the report into their case is biased and incompetent and there is nothing they can do about it. There is no superior body to hold the PHSO to account for its own maladministration and service failure.
The ‘tainted by association’ tactic is a tried and tested method used to discredit and divert. In my complaint to the ICO about the PHSO’s handling of an information request, the ICO used the same tactic. I can’t quote what was said, as it is contained in the ‘bundle’ and I do not have permission to publish (I don’t want to risk facing legal action either). Sufficient to say that the Tribunal was informed of comments I made on the ‘whatdotheyknow’ website relating to information requests by a named individual and by a particular campaigning organisation. The fact that the individual and organisation in question made very good information requests was, however, not pointed out!
Tribunal decision (dismissed):
I don’t mind Diogenes and anonymous not disclosing their true identity. Personally, I have always been encouraged to act without fear or favour. However, it is clear from the PHSO e mail that Mr. Behrens is hell bent on creating a climate of fear in anyone minded to contact our group. If you have had PHSO issues do not be afraid to contact Della. She will respect anything disclosed in confidence. In my opinion, this is a significant development. Tainting people by association is an abuse of free speech and civil liberty. Not once, since the publication of the book has PHSO contradicted any of our evidence. Do not be afraid. We are now closer than ever to exposing PHSO for what it is. I would like to thank the author of the e mail for the contribution
you have read me very well: I act with fear. However, this is not due to PHSO and their blatant cronyism, pathetic propaganda, and bullyism, at all, believe me, but the internet at large: it all just creeps me out. Time and time again you hear of someone writing a word which is interpreted by crazy mobs on the internet in a way that accuses the writer, in damning ways, and then it’s just a matter of time before someone is going to receive death threats, etc. This has not happened to me personally, though.
In general, I do keep myself anonymous on the internet, but I am pleased to say that in fact I have no problem at all disclosing my identity to Della: in fact, I have already done so (emailed her with my true name before).
I trust Della and this organization, this is not a problem at all for me. I have followed this blog more or less regularly, and its people strike me as serious, sober and rational.
” We are now closer than ever to exposing PHSO for what it is. “. I do agree. Quite frankly Della’s book seems to me devastating. I myself must hurry with my story, I don’t want to let too much time pass. Unfortunately I am battling against more than one organization, and there’s a million details, so it’s taking time to discern how to say it all as concisely as possible. I cannot wait to complete these goals. I wish you all a great day.
anyone who will read Della Reynold’s book will be very clear about how dysfunctional and corrupted is the PHSO, (and in my experience, the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, the Housing Ombudsman and a couple more. In fact, we might safely say ALL of them, though the PHSO is the worst one since it is able to “decide” outcomes related to the most serious matters in such negligent ways). I have read your story, Mr Czarnetzki, just about a week ago in the book by Della Reynolds. I am sorry you had to go through all these ordeals. As you aptly described them, “an astonishing set of events”.
Now that this excellent book is available in Kindle format at an even lower price, and consequently more people will be able to read the book, all the more easily, it won’t be long before PHSO will start “disliking” its author all the more: strong arguments backed up by facts, makes for a pretty brutal mix!
I am just in the process of finishing the book so that I myself can write my own story and send it to Mrs Reynolds. I want to write it as well and concisely as possible, but before doing so I want to read the book in its entirety.
The opposite of love is not necessarily hatred. More often than not, it is indifference. And it looks as if PHSO has now run out of the latter.
The truth is that it is impossible for the governors to defend the performance of PHSO under Rob Behrens, so they simply dismiss the criticism as ‘inappropriate behaviour’. How very dare we!
If by ‘unreasonable stance’ the author refers to ‘asking the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombuds’ to be accountable to the public and it’s own service charter. Then a reasonable person would consider the ‘stance’ of PHSO as unreasonable and unprofessional.
and more importantly, if the only independent pressure group of PHSO has been blacklisted, who is going to hold this Ombuds to account?
This is a serious abuse of civil liberties in an alleged democracy and I would encourage PHSO to change their stance and meet with PHSOtheFACTS to find a workable compromise.
LikeLiked by 1 person