Update Nov 15th 2021

Today I called the PHSO on 0345 015 4033 and waited listening to irrelevant messages for 6 minutes before being given the option to speak to the accessible PHSO worker, or “Representative” as they now name themselves. The wait for a response to that was another ear-bashing 10 minutes at least… they were so busy…

I spoke to a nice-enough representative with my simple-enough enquiry, which was to find out if the PHSO had made any effort yet to set up procedure to deal with PHSO complaints which might for instance range from discourtesy and disrespect right through to mental abuse.

They had not, and there had been no change since my last enquiry via FOI request, when the response was essentially, “we don’t need one [because we don’t abuse anyone]”. Slick answers like that one tells all about the PHSO, who even admit to having a dislike to any complainant who–in the converse–lacks courtesy and respect themselves, as judged by PHSO own definition, of course. Yes it’s all very one sided here.

When I say that there was yet no procedure to deal with PHSO disrespect and general abuse of complainants, there was no change in procedure to address this serious issue. There were still “only two options” and these were:

  • Talk to or email your abuser (whether caseworker or other representative), or their manager (i.e. the one who backs them up and signs off their handiwork).
  • You can phrase your complaint to the Government PACAC ( Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee). My representative or his over-the-shoulder adviser was obviously ignorant of the fact the PACAC will not investigate individual PHSO abuses… full stop. Oh and of course the PACAC only turns its attention to PACAC affairs once annually for a quick run over its financing, and performance–as measured in-house by PHSO workers.

I spoke to the representative for 45 minutes explaining the problem and getting second-hand responses in return. I could tell that as a representative (of the powers invested in the current  PHSO Rob Behrens) he was kept far away from the dirty business of deception, deceit, and mental abuse business side of the PHSO, and was trying to match my experience to the PHSO mantra of Candour, Openness, Transparency, Accountability etc etc..

I had no problem with the conversation being recorded (as you may be warned on all calls) because it helps the PHSO statistics. I gave my details out of curtsey; not wanting to be a ‘secret complainer’.

I advised the representative that my case was closed but still unresolved; and the reasons for that; and that previous contacts enquiring on that matter had been further abusive, considering PHSO warranted purpose, principles and expectation of candour.

I advised the representative that details of PHSO corruption and divisiveness would be published in due course. I also advised [him] that it seemed unjust that I should be having to continue seek treatment and take medication for the harms committed by PHSO contacts including through PHSO R Behrens’ last communication which blatantly hid the lies I suspected the PHSO of concealing, and which PHSO had refused to release for two years after closing my case.

Blog – July 1st 2021 – Apologies to my readers. This account is somewhat out of date with regard to new findings of corruption and lying at the NHS Trust which was responsible for my son Nick’s death, and the lengths that the so-called “Independent” complaint investigator, the PHSO.

After the stress of trying to do ‘the right thing’ 2008 – 2021, I will be updating this as an when I am well enough to do so. The systemic abuses of the NHS/PHSO collaborative process have been too much 2008 -2021 and I have had to seek psychological assistance as a result. Yet please note, this harm is illegal and against Government intent and its responsibility in accountability of the PHSO. Actually there is no accountability for the actions of the PHSO in this direction and, despite the evidence available from complainants such as me, the PHSO waves it aside as if not of the slightest concern.

Meanwhile I have written to Carers UK with an update -and illustration of difficulties- as follows:

Dear Carers UK,  fao. Board Members
I await the day when GPs, CPNs Psychiatrists Social Services anon, start to appreciate the value of carers and family support in mental health care and support, as long-written into MH NICE procedures. I have now been mocked and derided for even thinking that Carers exist in any patient’s care programme, and reject the resulting harm done by exclusion.
Such was the case in my son’s death. I have now had to withstand the derisions and vagary of the health services complaints investigator (PHSO) in stating that this is all purely ‘my opinion’ and a ‘would have liked’ in my son’s 5 year isolation before his suicide.  The PHSO conveniently ‘forgot’ that I had complained about this situation at least 3 times before his death (to GP and to NHS Trust now BSMHFT).
Both NHS Trust and PHSO have now covertly lied in attempting to play down and cover-up the failures before my son’s death, and the corruption in NHS and PHSO investigation ever since – my complaint still without closure for that reason (2009 – 2021).  I will not accept the lies told by both those and the GPs concerned (now in Solihull Healthcare Partnership):  I will not accept the lies – full stop.
The PHSO R Behrens was asked (Oct 2017) why the PHSO said they thought my son “would probably have died anyway”   (actual words used). The PHSO investigators (against their own policy) would not say at the time. R Behrens would not say (replying mid 2018), and skipped the point entirely with irrelevant and somewhat derogatory terms considering the effort I had put into the investigation which the PHSO took 2009 to 2016 to look at and close without findings in my son’s care. A contrived agreement was bartered and agreed with the (then) CEO of BSMHFT John Short showing clear prejudice in PHSO dealings with the Trust and the GPs concerned.
Months after the PHSO refused to answer my outstanding questions, I discovered through Subject Access Request for detailed information that the NHS Trust BSMFT had lied to the PHSO and told them my son’s death was an Accident. They had also lied about standard procedures, Trust policy (& Best Practice) and about having involved us (Nick’s parents) about being involved in his care. We never were admitted as carers – we were kept out and uninformed of practices.  The same people who had lied had previously given other misleading testament including in a legal clinical negligence case where the Trust CE John Short later admitted that dismissive statements (counter-claims) they made made in my legal Claim were wrong i.e. they and their legal representation had lied to reject my Claims.
The Mental Health Trust BSMHFT is patently out of control and corrupt, as is the PHSO, and have both been as such now under three separate leaders (each). The current BSMHFT CEO / Chair has refused to discuss the matter with me presumably because they got off so lightly with my son’s avoidable death… and no penalty. They (I assume the CEO’s defence team) also lied about ‘Compensation’. This has never been mentioned even as a consideration, and was a NHS Trust/PHSO manufactured ‘device’ of excuse. The Trust had denied all Claims therefore compensation was not due, appropriate or paid, in legal settlement only.
I have been shocked and mentally harmed by what those bodies have manufactured to ensure I would never recover from my trauma; there would be no learning, and no-one would be ever be brought to book. Unfortunately many more have died since for the same reasons; rejection and isolation by services, and keeping Carers out. I have heard of other cases. The system is broken, divisive, biassed, and corrupt of purpose.
Why is nobody aware, when things still go wrong; or even before? The PHSO appears ignorant, defensive and out of date.  Why are so many health-related deaths being covered-up (REF: other Mental Health NHS Trust revelations in the media)?
If the PHSO is out of touch with current practices and NICE Guidelines such as to then deride patients’ and carers’ “our NHS expectations” (as have, effectively, PHSO investigators and chiefs Abraham, Mellor and Behrens) then more parents will loose kids / young adults – with no redress nor means of redress.
Needless to say I have tried raising all this with PHSO and their “Customer Services” (the sole point of access) but all responses and rejections are based on loose predeterminations of negative outcome; all by completely  ‘lay’ and untrained staff, just as they were in 2009 when I complained about NHS Trust BSMHFT failure to investigate, prevarication, and denial of culpability.
This is sickening for harmed and, especially, bereaved complainants, and exposure of this state of affairs is long overdue, for the sake of public healthcare services learning and future provision.  Services such as those mentioned have even taken advantage of the inferior energy of appeal by traumatised complainants; often inflicting ‘abuse’ in defence.
Action is needed today and the PHSO shrugs all accountability for the damage being done; in my evidenced case of nine years and, as a result, in my committed opinion. I am now 73 and suffer the long term effects of ‘following the recommended route’ for candour, apology and learning. Professionals have lied and bent the ear of the PHSO in an unfit and potentially corrupt and unaccountable process.
Thank you for listening,  yours,
[Carers UK member]…   “
(copied widely to appropriate parties including Govt. PACAC and CQC)

All the above – and yet the PHSO remains aloof and disconnected from purpose without even a nod to their own “Principles”.

Further Notes: Oddly there was almost a total lack of contemporary documentation of my son’s ‘care’, and professionals were free to ‘remember’ (or not), or manufacture details as felt appropriate by expanding on that dearth of record.

In the case of the GP alone there was no detail of actual involvement, false records made; compounding a massive reluctance for the GP to get involved, give information, provide support and, in the last instance after their patient’s death, unable to carry out an investigation following NHS contracted procedures. There has still not been a GP investigation, and yet the PHSO was obviously satisfied with a whitewash statement of outcome… full stop: box ticked.

The NHS Trust had similar difficulties with procedure and documentation – all written in vague ‘easily interpretable’ notes; making full use of elaboration and re-interpretation depending on who the listener was; whether us (Nicks parents / carers); to internal investigators; to HM Coroner (at Inquest); to legal defence teams (in Civil Claim); to PHSO at case assessments (1) 2009-10, and (2) 2015-16  (nb that’s stretching to over 7 years on the open case… just to add to my/our trials efforts and traumas).

The lack of contemporary NHS documentation was very evident in answers accepted by the PHSO in evidence quotes such as ‘I don’t remember’ or ‘as far as I remember… ‘; or, as in the case of the NHS Trust, claims that (again from their memory), I and HM Coroner were wrong about my son’s manner of death (yet also NHS Trust witnesses were unable or unwilling to answer Coroner’s questions succinctly, at the time).

In actual outcome the PHSO appeared to miss the point in their eagerness to close the case. The partial resolution was not even a complaint in my son’s care and lack of family contact or involvement, despite the fact that it pointed to exactly that failure–that disconnect–in the NHS Trust failing to engage (and still denied); and despite the Trust still publicly boasting the value and benefits of their Family Involvement in mental health care:  AKA, and as implemented, as “Meriden Family Programme” for staff training, since before the turn of the century… and as per NICE guidelines (CG1 onwards).

Potential lies, inaccuracies, and omissions in the PHSO investigation and ‘outcome’ (2016: “Partial Resolution”) were put to PHSO R Behrens in October 2017, to no avail, and despite a vivid description and demonstration of the psychological harm caused by the PHSO. In response, critical questions were entirely ignored despite >6 month wait in optimistic hope of candour. Yet, a late release (delayed by PHSO) of investigation proceedings and evidence submitted by NHS parties showed that professionals had lied. N.B. my questions about PHSO harmful amateur opinions on this had been refused by caseworkers at the time (~Oct 2015).

I now hold a copy of the offending and offensive NHS Trust communication to the PHSO made in 2015. Some of the PHSO-accepted evidence was made verbally however, without any supporting evidence. Other evidence supplied was anecdotal, or adjusted to ‘fit the question’.


Blog – November 2018 – It is now ten years since my son took his life following sparse but brutally intimidating contact with his GP, and local mental health and social services who, after his death, accused him of of being “uncooperative” with regard to treatment interventions, pathways and plans, without ever having explained these before writing him off, three times over five years of illness.

Opinion: It has been the clear intention of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust (now BSMHFT) in colluding with the Health Services Ombudsman (the PHSO), to ensure the truth would not be exposed, and to denigrate, harass and destroy the complainant: a bereaved father wanting to report the negligence seen, that left his son without chances. 

The corruption in investigation, now extended for 10 years over leadership and organisation changes at BSMHFT and at the PHSO, has shown entire lack of candour and honesty in making efforts to cover-up matters leading up to my son’s avoidable death.

Fact: The last straw, just to give an illustration of what I have had to face in the sustained process of abusively conducted denials by NHS and PHSO, beginning with:

“we feel there would be no worthwhile outcome to an investigation”

…and then seven years later reporting:

“Nick would probably have died anyway”

…in arbitrarily dismissing so many key factors of negligence and broken policies, that the first statement might well be the PHSO’s headline policy: and certainly an ‘agenda’.

The above ‘whiplashes’ were supposed to be intelligent conclusions to a ‘professional’ investigation requested ten years ago. Yet it clearly showed the PHSO’s obvious difficulty and stigma over mental health and suicide issues. Ten years has seen no change. A write-off from R Behrens (PHSO) in reviewing them showed the same thinking, and made no effort to redress.

The complaint, to-date, is still unresolved and, with the current irrational responses and evidenced corruption showing the PHSO’s unfitness for purpose (and you might wish research this on line), it may well explain why so many people are being first let down by the NHS, and then again after a subsequent loss of child or close relative. The PHSO’s outcome is supposed to be “Final Answer” for truth, fairness, justice (and reconciliation?), and yet the office of PHSO is not a judge, there is no jury and no open questions are placed on witnesses with any onus to be candid, or even qualified to answer. The PHSO is of course not a body of professionals – and is unaccountable to none.

However, feel free to read on, with past efforts and responses after I made a complaint to Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, and the death of my son after making it. Matters of the complaint were known to all front line staff, GPs, NHSTrust and Social Services, but none had reacted….  but actually had dismissed them!

BSMHFT current CEO J. Short and Trust Chair S. Davis and PHSO R Behrens have all been advised, but have refused to respond -except in a negative manner- as of 30/11/18. They are aware that their actions have caused further harm, which, exactly as with my son, they have showed no interest to assess. I should not need to point out that these (non)actions are against EU and UK law.


Previously, on this website:

“This is an account dedicated to questioning accounts of, and learning from, my son’s  sad and unnecessary death. Nick departed us aged 29 in November 2008. He’d been ill for at least 6 years, but efforts made to get help from healthcare services were fruitless mainly due to misguided and amateur responses from his GP medical practitioners and from specialist NHS Trust mental health services.

I’m writing about it because it may help others avoid similar circumstances, although I can’t really offer any positive advice except be careful who you trust when it comes to healthcare, never take No for an answer and, most importantly, keep a diary of every action you or the Service takes – names, dates, actions.

The events although intensely distressing are important to me and may be a source of information to help others, while at the same time help me cope with my entirely terrible loss, and the extended aftermath of the sad affair, arguably preventable by simple steps and common sense exercised by those we turn to who ‘have the knowledge’.

Unfortunately those people can be hard to reach and are often misguided in their interpretations of patient care and who, in our case, let us down at practically every turn: let down by ignorance, incompetence and arrogance.

Complaining was futile.  But it was too late when I found all this  out – my son was gone. What a nice sincere and honest lad; and what a waste even yet (2017) to be appreciated for its implications.

In the aftermath was another fiasco: my loss led to the minefield of making a new complaint.

I still trusted that in the UK there was a complaints process and an inquiry system to bring out the truth, find out what happened: why we were let down. I was wrong: the system again let me down due firstly to the self-interest and duplicity of  services involved and then—when this failed—an approach to the health services ombudsman (PHSO) whose task is the issues and learn from the mistakes—in theory. At the time of update—September 2017—the matter is still unresolved due to successive further incompetence by that body. The trust is destroyed.

The account here represents my well-supported views, along with facts and experiences. But my evidence, according to the PHSO, ‘doesn’t count’, or it is in any case ‘trumped’ by suspect and inaccurate  NHS evidence however deceitful and meagre. That is their appreciation of Customer Service to complaints; never gaining insight to tragic loss; never appreciating and learning from mistakes for greater benefit: more years wasted, and potentially more tragic losses through the same mistakes.

It’s not a matter of the common answer-back “we’ll never know” why so-and-so took their own life.  I want to know why unprofessional elements in Government Services palpably aggravated the illness they had recognised, making no effort to apply healthcare policies.

Where should I start?

“your son would probably have died anyway”