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Consents, Questionnaires and Supply of Personal Data.

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Consents, Questionnaires and Supply of Personal Data.

Post by Beachcomber on Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:45 pm

The disclosure of information issue is very contentious and think we need to be very careful as, in my opinion, a flat refusal to supply any information  may be counter productive and could end up damaging the pensioner's case.  The Regs make no provision for questionnaires and consents for the release of medical records, they are silent on this, just requiring that the pensioner submit to the interview/examination. So, if the pensioner is not lawfully required to comply then he/she appears to be perfectly within their rights to refuse. However, we need to adopt a flexible, common sense approach to this.

Any reasonable person would understand that refusing to provide information in these circumstances is a good way to make a point or protest and to highlight official abuse of the IOD review system.  However, there is a danger that a flat refusal could lead to accusations that relevant essential information has been deliberately withheld.

We have seen that forces now send out letters which demand the completion of a questionnaire and medical records release consents accompanied by a warning.  Some of our colleagues have been intimidated by this and that must surely be the intent of the people responsible for the letters.  The wording used in these letters appears to be taken from the draft proposed 2011 PIBR which haven't been enacted although, for some reason, the PPA's have been advised to use this wording.  The Regulations currently in force are the 2006 PIBR and, as we know, questionnaires and consents are not part of those Regs.  Attempting to obtain data and consents using wording from proposed draft Regulations as though they are the Regs in force is dishonest and an abuse.

It is clearly intended  that any future Regs will include a requirement to provide information/data as well as attendance.  

The review process is a requirement of the Regs and IOD's accept that fact and object only to  unlawful and unfair reviews. Whichever way we look at it, we are part of that process and we have to be seen to act in a reasonable and sensible manner.  If we are too pedantic and refuse to supply any information or consents then it could be used against the pensioner in subsequent proceedings, it is also likely to hasten the day when the Regs are tightened.  The authorities just need a single instance where relevant information has been withheld for them to exploit it as dishonesty and this will undermine us and do us no good at all.  

It is up to the individual to decide how best to proceed when requested to supply this information.  I see no reason why we should agree to supply all the details demanded by the PPA, although there may be instances and circumstances when it is appropriate.  Forces are accustomed to holding far too much data on us, including much irrelevant or necessary material. We have to concern ourselves about what data they hold, who is actually holding it and who has access to it. We need to be very careful about the data we consent to supply, why do they want it?,  how relevant and necessary is it to the stated purpose?

Some forces demand consent to medical records back to birth, some demand financial details such as P60's. I was told by one IOD some years ago that he had, quite rightly, refused a demand from his force for disclosure of his bank statements!  At my last review, I was asked for information by the SMP that he had no right to and involved third parties who certainly would not have consented to any disclosure.

Our forces won't say 'Boo' to a goose, except where IOD's are concerned and I think that the forces reviewing at the moment are being deliberately confrontational.  But whichever way you look at it we are all bound up in the Regulations and we have to conduct ourselves in a professional manner, even if our forces don't.

When the review letter arrives, the IOD must decide what approach suits them best. There can be few who will be happy to comply fully and, of those who do comply fully, how many will have done so under duress?  

If you have been reviewed previously, it may be appropriate to write a letter disclosing any information relevant to changes since the last review accompanied by a consent to medical records limited to the period from the last review. Such information should be accurate and nothing which could have a bearing on the level of disability withheld.  I consider that to be a sensible and reasonable response with the IOD supplying all the relevant information that the SMP would need. You may wish to check with your GP/Consultant prior to releasing the records to ensure completeness and accuracy of the records.

You may wish to seek assurances from your force as to who will have access to your information, how and where it is held etc.  

The IOD review system has been hi-jacked and abused by those who administer it. IOD's have been very successful in defending themselves and should continue trying to resolve these problems with dignity and in ways that the 'Man on the Clapham Omnibus' will always be able to identify as a reasonable response to the problems we are faced with.
Advice is available from members of the legal team
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