This blog contains information on my complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) about the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). I was unhappy with the findings of several ICE investigations into how I was treated by a Work Programme provider, and ICE informed me that if I was unhappy I could take the matter up with the PHSO.
Although ICE informed me that the next stage of the complaints process was with the PHSO, in a letter from the PHSO (I did not receive the letter and only obtained a copy after making a Subject Access Request [SAR] several months later) I was informed that as I had not completed the proper complaints procedure my complaint could not be considered!
In the case history notes it is also stated that my case was closed because I had “No MP referral”. This is very odd, considering it was an MP who sent my complaint form to the PHSO.
Finally, the PHSO have informed me that they cannot provide me with a copy of my original complaint form as:
“this was not scanned onto our casework management system and it is presumed destroyed.” But to show that they really care the FOI/DP officer writes: “I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Full details of my complaints to ICE about my Work Programme provider can be found here:
Summary of recent developments:
10 December 2014 – Date of email concerning my first ‘presumed destroyed’ complaint form. ‘It puts us in a bit of a bind because it is the information we relied on in coming to our decision.’
March 2015 – Complaint form resubmitted by the MP who submitted the first one in August 2014.
15 March 2015 – Date of letter I sent to the PHSO in which I requested that letters be sent to me using Royal Mail Signed For to make sure no important letter failed to reach me as happened previously. PHSO have admitted receiving the letter, but are unable to provide me with a copy as they have lost it.
18 March 2015 – Date of letter from PHSO which I did not receive [copy included in SAR response] informing me that my complaint was being dealt with.
April 2015 – FOI request revealed that the MP’s name did not appear on a list identifying MPs who submitted requests in March as it should (his name didn’t appear on the list when he submitted my complaint form the first time, either). Error noted by FOI team and action taken by PHSO to add MP’s name to list.
May 2015 – Wrote to new MP as I had received nothing from the PHSO about my complaints.
9 June 2015 – First letter I received from PHSO about my complaint form. Letter deals with only one of the four separate complaints that I made about the ICE (Work Programme provider provided false information to ICE)
10 June 2015 – My response to caseworker’s letter. I suggested that the caseworker had misinterpreted the nature of the one complaint referred to. I also requested information on who is dealing with my other three complaints.
15 June 2015 – Caseworker responds and suggests that I write again to ICE ‘and explain that you are raising a new complaint about different issues’. We do not see eye to eye on this matter. Nothing in letter to suggest that my other three complaints are being dealt with.
15 June 2015 – PHSO case history notes [included in SAR response] – ‘Mr X complains about ICE, but did not include any papers with his complaint.* From inquiries with ICE I understand they are of the view he tried to raise the concerns abin [sic] in 2014, and ICE refused to reconsider them…I will therefore advise him he needs to write to ICE and explain why he considers these as new complaints.’ How the caseworker fails to understand the nature of this complaint is baffling, to say the least.
Details are available on the web and the relevant addresses were written clearly on the complaint form.
15 June 2015 – PHSO case history notes – ‘Case closed’.
26 August 2015 – Letter from me to Customer Care Team complaining about PHSO decision and service (no response).
11 September 2015 – Subject Access Request
21 October 2015 – Response to Subject Access Request
6 November 2015 – Letter from me to Customer Care Team enquiring about my decision and service complaints.
16 November 2015 – Reply from Customer Care Team informing me that my complaints would be considered. It is stated that they only became aware of my letter’s existence (26 August) after I made my Subject Access Request (11 September).