• Phil Austen-Jones

Dear Mike Fulford... Could a complaint response be more inept?

To start this blog post, I will provide a quick recap.


Following an erroneous complaint response in March 2018, on the advice of the PHSO, we submitted follow up questions for clarifications, evidence, answers to questions ignored, etc.

  • West Hampshire CCG refused to answer them.

  • We submitted a Subject Access Request in December 2018 to get the details for a significant number of the questions.

  • Response received in January 2019. Unsurprisingly, the information supplied did not answer the questions.

  • GDPR Article 18 request submitted to restrict processing for accuracy check of records. No response from the CCG.

  • GDPR Article 17 request submitted for deletion of records.

  • Contrary to our data protection rights, West Hampshire CCG contacted us, a social worker and the care agency to arrange MDT. They even tried to obtain care records from the agency without our consent.

  • Formal complaint submitted regarding data protection.


Considering that West Hampshire CCG policy is to respond to complaints in 25 working days, we received the response two and a half months later.


Even now, I laugh at some of the responses received because they are so ludicrous.


Full copies of the complaint letter, the CCG response and our reply back can be found here.


Here is the summary:


We said that they had not made any investigation records, contrary to their own policy.


  • “There are no investigation records to share.”


Dear Mike Fulford, why are there no investigation records?


We said that there was no evidence of valid consent.


  • “On 13 April 2017 Mrs Austen-Jones signed a consent form which includes agreement to all subsequent reviews following the initial Continuing Healthcare Assessment and includes consent to information being gathered, collated and shared as part of the NHS Continuing Healthcare process. This consent form was shared with you as part of the subject access request. Mrs Austen-Jones had not at the time of the reviews withdrawn her consent. In addition both you and Mrs Austen-Jones participated in the review meetings and did not raise objections at the time.”


Dear Mike Fulford, according to you and West Hampshire CCG, you believe you can evidence informed consent because:

(a) You had an old consent form

(b) We did not formally withdraw consent

(c) We participated in the review meeting

(d) We did not raise any objections at the time


Hmmm… Quite right, we did not formally withdraw consent. Regrettably, we believed the lies about the reasoning for the review which means we were misled. Did we raise objections? The email before the meeting says we did, as does the recording of the meeting. But why let facts get in the way of West Hampshire CCG’s version of informed consent?


We said that there was no evidence to back up any of the statements regarding the reasoning for the review.


Previous statements:

  • "It is part of CHC funding protocol for clients to have a reivew every 6-12 moths, this with a request for an increased package of care, has prompted our case coordinators to request me to arrange a review meeting.”

  • (Abridged version) ‘Reviews are done every 3 to 6 months. We used to do them on an annual basis but they kinda like stopped that now.’

  • “What I can ascertain from CONI: it was a call from[care agency director] on the 25thOct to state that Mrs AJ does not have a clinical need, and that the carers are only providing cleaning, and driving services. [Care agency director] was the one who requested the review.”

  • “…the Continuing Healthcare team confirm that the case was completed following correspondence from the [care agency] on 25 October 2017. This highlighted that Mrs Austen-Jones had clinically improved, stating that an NHS Continuing Healthcare review was indicated.”


What did Mike Fulford (Deputy Chief Officer) say in the CCG reply?

  • “There are no records to share on the reasoning for the review.”


Dear Mike Fulford, as there are no records to share, I am sure you will want to investigate and report back to me on how your staff are making claims regarding records that do not exist.


We said they had not provided any rationale for the accuracy of the views in the November Review report.


  • “Our investigation did not find any inaccuracies in the November review report.”


Dear Mike Fulford, your statement does not answer the question. What was the rationale for the judgement?


We said that the guidelines used by the case coordinator in the January 2018 review to refer us to MDT did not exist.


  • "The guidance is the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare as stated in paragraph 184 “Where there is clear evidence of a change in needs to such an extent that it may impact on the individual’s eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare, then the CCG should arrange a full reassessment of eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare”. It is the role of the Continuing Healthcare staff member carrying out the review to make a clinical judgement on the need for a full reassessment of eligibility.”


Dear Mike Fulford, there a just a few minor issues with this statement…

(a) Wrong National Framework. This is from the 2018 version, not the 2012

that was relevant at the time. (Never mind, the principle is the same.)

(b) The change in need was not to an extent that it may have impacted

eligibility (still one priority and two severe scores).

(c) The case coordinator did not believe the case should be referred to

MDT, but it was “simply the guidelines”.


No explanation as to when Meriel Chamberlain carried out her review (considering the phone call to us seventy-five minutes after the review meeting.


  • “In her review of January 2018, of which you have been given a copy, Jo Craven clearly notes the following post review comment explaining why Meriel Chamerlain was involved. Ms Chamberlain is the Band 8 that Jo refers to in the statement below taken directly from the review paperwork.

“…I spoke with the Band 8 who, after being given the details, advised that

she felt Rachael’s needs in Altered States of Consciousness would not meet

the Priority level, and advised for an MDT to be arranged.”


Dear Mike Fulford, thank you for referencing the review paperwork which I have had the dubious pleasure of reading on many occasions. Please could you answer the actual question or admit that the information is not available.


We said there was no evidence of the alleged agreement from the LRM that we had agreed to a DST.

  • “In the meeting 15 February 2018 Pauline Dorn discussed and indicated a DST would be the appropriate course of action, as a change in need was evident in the new review completed on 23 January 2018. A copy of the recording of the complaint local resolution meeting was shared with you on 16 February.”


Dear Mike Fulford, I know what was said at the meeting – I was there. However, I still await the answer to my question. West Hampshire CCG has repeated this notion, that we agreed to a DST, to other organisations when defending its actions. So where is the evidence of agreement?


We said there were no records of the funding for the package over the last three years


  • “Please find attached a statement of the funding for the package of care for the past three years. We do not routinely share funding information as part of a Subject Access Request but we are happy to provide it."


Dear Mike Fulford, whilst we appreciate a copy of the funding figures, we had originally asked for the funding agreement. We know why you did not provide it. You didn’t have a copy of it. As the Chief Finance Officer, you should be concerned by this, not ignoring it. And, for future reference, if you fail to provide information requested in a Subject Access Request you must state your reasoning for the omission.


We requested the deletion of records under GDPR Article 17.


  • “As there was a legitimate basis for the reviews and associated data processing there are no grounds for erasure of the November 2017 review report, the January review report or the related clinical information.”


Dear Mike Fulford, your response would have more credibility if you actually had evidence for your claims. West Hampshire CCG (now part of Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG) continues to hold this information unlawfully. Despite recent attempts by the CCG to defend its position, the claims are just as erroneous as yours.


We said that West Hampshire CCG had considered us to be becoming a vexatious complainant, and that we would consider any accusation that we are vexatious complainants as both defamatory and untrue.


  • “I am not aware of you being considered by this organisation, nor am I aware you being accused of being vexatious.”


Dear Mike Fulford, thank you for the reassurance on this matter. I guess the document below must have been forged by one of your colleagues. I would be grateful if you could investigate this matter and report back to me as it is deeply concerning that false statements are being made by your staff relating to statements made in meetings that you attend.

We said that West Hampshire CCG continued to process my wife’s sensitive personal data whilst GDPR Article 17 and 18 requests were submitted.


  • “”

(Please note, this is not a mistake on my part. There was absolutely no response from the CCG.)


Dear Mike Fulford, is there a reason why you have nothing to say on this issue?


Separately, we had sent an “URGENT, PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” email to Jo Craven. The email stated, “The attached document is for the sole attention of Jo Craven (CHC Case Coordinator). It is urgent, private and confidential to her.”


  • “Jo Craven no longer works for this organisation and since the email you refer to was a draft no further action will be taken to investigate.”


Dear Mike Fulford, why was an “urgent, private and confidential email” that was “for the sole attention of Jo Craven” accessed by West Hampshire CCG and then passed onto your solicitors, Bevan Brittan?


FINAL THOUGHTS


Is this a wilful attempt to cover up or just incompetence?

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