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FOI request to HCPC

wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
Hi, Please can one of the advisors help. My question is: Do we have the right to have information about our assessor's qualifications? I don't just mean what they say they are, nurse, paramedic or whatever I mean their actual qualifications. I have had a FOI request to HCPC for these refused on the grounds of it being personal data and the person i.e. my assessor would not wish them to give me this information. Turning this around think about all the personal information she had about me. Confidential medical records, information about my personal life and she was able to carry out a physical examination involving touching me without asking permission. I replied to HCPC and the last line of my email said it all. "May I point out that she had my confidential Medical History and a lot of personal information about my private life in fact far more information than you are prepared to tell me about her."

Replies

  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    PS. If we do have the right who should we ask as the assessment companies are refusing to give us any information. Can we insist and is there a law we can quote to reinforce our request?
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Hi wildlife,

    Unfortunately I don't think that there's any connection between all the information they have about claimants and what they are required to provide! There are many many exemptions from freedom of information for different reasons, and there is an exemption for personal data - in other words, giving you information about a particular assessor might be a breach of data protection law.

    I think this would all boil down to what is the definition of 'personal data'. 

    Here's a link to what the ICO says about refusals.

    The definition of personal data in section 40 of the FOI Act is the same as the definition in the Data Protection Act. 

    '“personal data” means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified—

    (a)

    from those data, or

    (b)

    from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller,

    and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual;'

    So you might be able to argue that there's no way you could identify the individual from their qualifications. However, looking at it another way, if you know when they got their qualifications and where from, that does start to look as if it might be 'personal data'. 

    You could try ringing the ICO helpline and see what they say. 

    0303 123 1113. 

    I'd think carefully about what you are trying to show. The assessment company will probably say that everyone gets the same training etc. But it's absolutely clear in my experience that the training is inadequate to prepare most assessors to understand the effects of different conditions on claimants' abilities, let alone to reliably assess those effects.


    Will

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    [email protected], That's very helpful. It's not just about finding out what qualifications my assessor had but whether or not she was a qualified Paramedic. That's all I want to find out. ATOS say that she is but I don't trust their word on anything. However HCPC have got as far as comparing photos & information from the internet with their records to verify they are one and the same person. I don't now feel the need to find out her qualifications for myself as HCPC are looking into her registration themselves and all I've asked for in my latest email to them is verification of what one person in their FTP Dept. told me that the person who assessed me, and about whom there is a lot of information that anyone can access online, is the same Paramedic on their register. The online info. has no reference to training or working as a Paramedic. I have been very careful in wording things so there are no accusations and have tried to hand this over to someone else to investigate. I cannot let it drop as it's a matter of public protection and of course I am one of the "victims". I am waiting 20 working days from a reply from HCPC so will consider what to do then if anything. As I've posted before there was a blatant lie on my assessment report which if nothing else I need her made accountable for. 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Understood wildlife. I'd think it was strongly arguable that there is public interest in finding out. On the other hand, if it is 'personal data' that could identify the person and put them in risk in some way, or breach their right to privacy, that could be different.

    I'd be interested to hear what the ICO think!

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    @Will, This person who both my husband and I but mostly MOH who has an excellent memory whereas  mine isn't so good recognised her from her photo online. If we're talking about personal data she's on Linkedin with her complete job history, professional skills and education details. I can see how she would have got the job from her skills in admin, IT etc So if anyone's putting her at risk she's doing it to herself. 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    wildlife

    As my colleague Will said, we will all be interested in what the ICO think.

    Maria
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    edited May 2017
    @Maria, I haven't rung ICO because someone called a "Secretariat" at HCPC who  MOH thinks is head of a Dpt? emailed today saying they are investigating my assessor's qualifications and registration and will get back to me in 20 working days at most. I will ring ICO if I get no joy after their investigation.
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    @Will I've now drawn a blank trying to access information about my assessor as I understand it's her own personal data. However I finally got around to ringing ICO where an advisor told me how to do a Subject Access Request for all my own personal data from ATOS which should give us some clues as to when the lies begin. I used a template letter from the ICO website and sent it by email to ATOS customer services. I received very prompt reply saying that as DWP deal with all the documentation they'd forwarded it to them. A classic case of passing the buck. I have replied again saying they need to differentiate between the PIP system and the law and asking that my request be forwarded to their department that deals with Data Protection/Freedom of Information. They have 40 days straight to reply and comply otherwise ICO will be on their backs. Will keep you updated.       .  
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    wildlife, ah yes, I was afraid that might happen about the personal data.

    As for your personal data, umm, ok it may be true that it all gets passed onto the DWP as they are the people that use it. I'm dubious though because surely ATOS need to keep it due to complaints etc? I agree with your point that there is a distinction between DWP records (which may include evidence, but also discuss the law) and ATOS records which presumably would only be about the assessment.

    I agree with your approach - give them a deadline and then take it further if necessary.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    @Will Thanks for your reply. My conversation with ICO gave me the answer as to whether or not ATOS should have forwarded my subject access request onto DWP. They should not. I am asking ATOS not DWP as everyone has the right to do when it concerns their own personal data. It's interesting to ask the question as to how the system works regarding copies of all documentation especially as in my case a review of everything took place at the time of my assessment, for the 1st decision and twice for the MR. Are there 2 copies, one held by ATOS and one by DWP or is it one copy of everything sent backwards and forwards, and how is new evidence then attached to that already being used? It's easy to see how inefficient using 2 different companies becomes when one alone would collect everything and always have it to hand whenever the claimant rings. I suspect the assessors don't use the evidence because they don't have it. Regarding what I have requested. I have asked for the tick box onscreen answers my assessor made and any other copies of documents about me including an update on my complaint. Nothing has to be altered or not sent as the law will be broken, so we'll see what happens after 40 days. The end date is on my calendar when I will ring ICO to let them know the result. Will keep you posted.. 
          
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