Oliver Letwin – the Complainers’ Champion

phsothefacts-logo-D3.pngThe Rt. Hon Oliver Letwin is Minister for Government Policy, a member of the Cabinet Office and advisor to David Cameron.  Following a meeting at the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), parliamentlive.tv  Mr. Letwin announced that he was leading an inquiry into the way complaints are handled.

This inquiry will involve two reviews.


1.  How to make it easier for the public to make a complaint, with view to introducing a single Ombudsman service, entered from one main portal.

2.  How complaints are treated by civil servants, government departments, MPs and the NHS. (This would include the Ombudsman – PHSO).

He vowed to create, for “the first time in history,” a system in which complaints are treated as “a huge potential mine of information on service delivery”, adding: “I am intending to drive that forward myself.”

You can read the full report here:   bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics

Mr. Letwin’s inquiry is due to start in January and his office have stated that,  ‘…we will be drawing on the experiences of those who have had first-hand experience of all levels of the complaints system.’     So here is your chance to be heard. 

As it is notoriously difficult for letters of complaint to actually reach the member of parliament they are intended for, phsothefacts.com will collect, collate and deliver personally all evidence directed to Mr. Oliver Letwin.  This delivery will take place on 16th December 2013, so please ensure your submissions are in well before that date.

What do I submit?

  1. He would like to know if you found your MP helpful.
  2. He is asking whether you had any difficulty navigating the system.  (keep both of these points brief as these are not as significant as receiving a fair hearing).
  3. Most importantly he is investigating how complaints are used to improve service delivery.  Given that over 98% of cases handled by PHSO are refused investigation on spurious grounds, it follows that none of these incidents provide any opportunity for improvements to service delivery.  After all PHSO  rarely finds that any public body has acted ‘unreasonably’.   (Provide hard evidence on this point).

Do’s and Don’t s

  • Do be brief.  Aim for 2 sides of A4.
  • Do supply hard evidence.  Supposition can be dismissed.
  • Do reiterate that as PHSO failed to investigate/ignored your evidence/manipulated the facts/colluded with the public body/failed to address the key issues, etc. then no lessons were learned and no improvements made.  This ties in with his investigation.
  • Don’t write your whole story.  Give only an overview as necessary.
  • Don’t argue about anything you can’t prove.
  • Don’t become over-emotional.  Stick to the facts.

When you have completed your evidence, please contact Carol-Ann Purkis by email at capurkis@hotmail.com   She will organise for your paperwork to be included in the file to be presented on the 16th December at the next PASC inquiry meeting.

It is very important that Mr. Letwin has first-hand stories from users of the public service Ombudsman.  Only the cabinet office can change legislation and this will be required if we are to move away from the present unaccountable service which is protected by the ‘discretion’ clause built into the 1967 Act.  So speak up now!


Private Meeting with PASC 26th November 2013

phsothefacts-logo-D3.pngPrivate Meeting with PASC

26th November 2013


Eleven PHSO complainants were invited to a private meeting with members of the PASC committee on 26th November and phsothefacts.com attended that meeting.  We were all given the opportunity to speak briefly about our own cases and as we did so common themes emerged.  Key among these was the consistent inability of PHSO to address the important issues, their bias towards public bodies, their inability to account for their own decisions and the way in which complainants were ignored when they continued to ask for explanations.

Some of the committee members looked shocked at the appalling and arrogant way the Ombudsman handles public complaint.  One of the members,  Mr. Greg Mulholland MP, stated that he would like to see any evidence of PHSO maladministration.  When it was pointed out that we could all supply evidence, he agreed he would accept any evidence presented.

So here is our opportunity to be heard. 

As it is not always easy to have your correspondence reach the member of parliament it is intended for, we plan to take all evidence personally to the House of Commons on 16th December 2013 when we attend the next hearing of the inquiry into the Ombudsman service.  At this meeting Dame Julie Mellor will be answering questions and we have been told that content from our private meeting will be used to formulate those questions.

Please attend the PASC inquiry meeting on 16th December 2013 (9.30) and show by strength of numbers our concern about the quality of this service. 


What type of evidence should we present?   Do’s and Don’t s. 

  • PASC wish to see instances where PHSO have blatantly ignored the evidence put before them.
  • Instances where PHSO have favoured a public body where there is no evidence to support their case. ie. bias.
  • Firm evidence of collusion between PHSO and NHS trusts or other public bodies.  This is a key issue and any data on this should be prioritised.
  • Do not put forward supposition if you cannot support your claim with hard evidence.  You may well be right, but these issues will only be a distraction.
  • Do not write reams and reams even though your case is complex.  We want Mr. Mulholland to be able to find the facts quickly.  So summarise, stick to the above points and provide the evidence as an appendix.
  • It is better for PASC to process a large number of different complaints than to work through a few lengthy ones.  If you write too much they may not read it.  See example given below.

Make sure your evidence is ready for 16th December then either bring it yourself to the PASC inquiry, pass it to someone you know is attending, or post/email it to me and I will take it for personal transfer.  

Contact me at  phso-thefacts@outlook.com

Include a copy for Mr. Oliver Letwin MP.  He is also calling for evidence as part of the Cabinet Office investigation into the Ombudsman service.  The Cabinet Office controls legislation, so Mr. Letwin is a key player.  See details here: phsothefacts.com/news

We were also encouraged to start a pressure group by another member of the committee Mr. Lindsay Roy MP.  phsothefacts.com is happy to act as coordinator for this pressure group.  Please see  join-pressure-group  on this site for more information.