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to write to the NHS using just my initials and to expect them not to assume I'm a Mr.

(120 Posts)
RedToothBrush Tue 22-Jan-13 08:04:17

I have made five FOI requests in the last month, using my initial and no title.

Two of the responses (so far) I've had have been addressed to Mr.

AIBU to think that I should be allowed not to state my gender and marital status when making formal and official enquiries and to simply be addressed as I have titled myself.

Is this really too much to ask or expect?

notcitrus Sun 27-Jan-13 18:59:00

I get loads of NHS letters, and most are addressed to Dear Not Citrus, with about equal numbers to Mr, Mrs, Ms and Dr Citrus (either of the last two would be correct - I'm not an MD so don't use Dr in medical settings by default, but my PhD is in biomedical stuff so I do sometimes pull it out if being patronised...). Plus lots to Parent/Carer of Mini Citrus or Micro Citrus, as well as Master and Miss Citrus.

The audiotypists and admin staff should know better, yes, and like OP I get annoyed by the Mr or Mrs assumptions, but standards of letters seem to have plummeted in the last couple years, so badly that I can't understand the last one - I think it's meant to say 'hyper' a lot or possibly 'hypo' but says 'hipo' mostly instead, with lots of other typos. If I have to choose I'd prefer the medical terminology to be correct over a title, but I suspect someone who could do the former would manage the latter anyway.

And FOI requests shouldn't be a burden on any organised body - most of the time people are asking the same questions they did before the Act, but ensuring they are taken seriously. And I've been on the receiving end of shedloads of them. The public should have the right to know what is done with their money and in their name!

EmmelineGoulden Wed 23-Jan-13 21:58:58

You don't have to be paranoid flogging, just bored. I have tried many different titles in my time. Oddly it turns out quite a lot of people do care a very little bit, so it can be quite amusing. I've used Mr. a few times but that mainly confuses people.

Floggingmolly Wed 23-Jan-13 21:27:30

Just how daft / paranoid would you have to be to call yourself Dr.
Emmeline, just to avoid disclosing your marital status to anyone??? NOBODY CARES

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:56:38

I probably look at around 4-5 FOI a week and never see them from jornalists, a lot from OAP's though

tigerdriverII Wed 23-Jan-13 20:53:22

In my experience FOI requests are often made by journalists. Not always of course, and there are legitimate reasons for making them, but they are often fishing expeditions.

ClippedPhoenix Wed 23-Jan-13 20:47:30

Well put your correct before's in then!

Nutter!

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 20:46:42

Agreed, Ms seems to be an option on just about every form.

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:44:53

So what sort of information do you request for in a FOI request

You may wish to see a deceased relatives medical records

or coroners record

or you may want to know about general numbers of patients being seen in a&e

To put 5 request in though could be deemed as harrasment so it would be wise to be careful

FOI can be charged for if there is a certain amount of work involved so that the work doesn't impact on the service

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 23-Jan-13 20:42:47

See, I would say Ms has taken off. It's a pretty standard choice, at least.

EmmelineGoulden Wed 23-Jan-13 20:33:31

You could just use Dr. - it doesn't give away your gender or marital staus and it's not protected as a title by law. Just don't go trying to make people think you're medically qualified or an expert in any particular area.

madoldbird Wed 23-Jan-13 17:33:36

I got fed up with people assuming that because i used Mrs, I had a husband, and that my children had a father around. I was a widow. Those assumptions (frequent) hurt. Using Ms helped stopped people making those assumptions

ClareMarriott Wed 23-Jan-13 17:15:59

RedToothBrush

In the space of one day your query over using just initials has generated 108 responses. If I require information from a formal body I provide them with my full name , address, date of birth, NI number or anything else I think may be relevant and then send off for what I want. This way there should be no confusion over who I am . Now can we all get on with our lives please ?

houseelfdobby Wed 23-Jan-13 17:08:14

sorry about the double post blush

houseelfdobby Wed 23-Jan-13 17:07:49

Of course nobody cares whether you are married or not which is why it is SO odd that many of you are not questioning the convention where women are asked for their marital status every time they write a letter or an email but men are not. We need a new convention. Initials Surname seems good enough. Sure, if you are the poor operative and have a drop down list then that's tough but really the people WRITING the drop down menus should be more imaginative and at least have a Mr/Ms option instead of having to choose between Mr or Ms.

Incidentally Ms has never really taken off because it is hard to pronounce and has been appropriated as shorthand for separated/ "it's complicated" which is a whole message of its own. I wouldn't mind so much if men had to do the same but cannot stand the casual sexism that dictates the continuance of this convention of marital status declaration by only women, for no apparent purpose.

houseelfdobby Wed 23-Jan-13 17:06:00

Of course nobody cares whether you are married or not which is why it is SO odd that many of you are not questioning the convention where women are asked for their marital status every time they write a letter or an email but men are not. We need a new convention. Initials Surname seems good enough. Sure, if you are the poor operative and have a drop down list then that's tough but really the people WRITING the drop down menus should be more imaginative and at least have a Mr/Ms option instead of having to choose between Mr or Ms.

Incidentally Ms has never really taken off because it is hard to pronounce and has been appropriated as shorthand for separated/ "it's complicated" which is a whole message of its own. I wouldn't mind so much if men had to do the same but cannot stand the casual sexism that dictates the continuance of this convention of marital status declaration by only women, for no apparent purpose.

givemeaname Wed 23-Jan-13 15:35:16

I work in customer service and its frustrating when i receive communications which are signed M. Givemeaname which i then have to follow up with a telephone call - have you ever called & asked to speak to a M.givemeaname?
YABU. I never understand why people have such a hang up about giving their gender or marital status, are you ashamed or something? No one actually cares if you are Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Master, male, female or transgender so why hide the fact? Anyway, only 2 out the 5 replied Mr so the odds are in your favour. You need to lighten up.

madoldbird Wed 23-Jan-13 14:38:13

My correspondence can simply be addressed with "Ms" (as any man's can be addressed "Mr". 'Tis not a problem smile

Floggingmolly Wed 23-Jan-13 13:45:46

I don't see why people need to know if I'm married or not
What is this mindset?? It's for the convenience of being able to address your correspondence correctly; nobody actually cares, you know? hmm

madoldbird Wed 23-Jan-13 11:58:48

I started out thinking Y were BU, then re-read what you wrote, and saw you just wanted to be addressed as you had ended your letter, which actually does seem reasonable, even if to others Dear Initial Surname seems awkward. You have indicated how you wish to be addressed, so why can't this be used? I tend to end letters Firstname Surname, so responses come back Dear Ms Surname, which is fine, as i don't see why people need to know if i'm married or not.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 11:02:08

It is no longer thought appropriate to put Dear Sir/Madam if someone has supplied at least a name. As a reply to an FOI request will be an individual letter, it will be up to the person replying as to what they put. It is usual to address the recipient as Dear Mr Smith or Dear Ms Smith, rather than Dear R T B Smith, although the latter is always a possibilty. The sender did not choose to do this, so had to make a guess - so only a 50% chance of being right, so yes, OP, YABU. Perhaps they assumed that a man would be more likely to sign with initials and a woman more likely to give her full name.

On a computerised database, you would only have a limited number of options, so the inputer could use a drop-down menu for ease of input. It would not give the option of an unlimited number of combinations of initials. The only other possibility would be to leave a blank, so correspondence would be addressed to Dear Smith. Not really considered good form and, no doubt, something else the OP would find time to complain about.

houseelfdobby Wed 23-Jan-13 10:46:14

In the first big privatisations in the 80's, the lawyers decided to give the payouts to the first named on each account. By convention, most joint accounts are called "Mr and Mrs" Smith so MOST of the time that decision caused the windfall to go to the man only. The lawyers decided it wasn't they who were being sexist but rather those who went along with the convention "Mr and Mrs" .

So sometimes titles and conventions have real world impacts. Let's get rid of them. I dislike putting Mrs or Miss because I don't feel my marital status is any business contact's concern. Nor do I like putting Ms as most people take that as code for "divorced" and I am not divorced (and if I was, it would still be none of their business - I don't routinely ask men I deal with what their marital status is, and they would think it odd if I did.

I just want to be called H.E. Dobby. I also make FOI requests with no title and have always been written back to as "Mr". I don't really care BUT once I added a further question which happened to indicate I was female. At that point they refused to answer further as they said they had reason to believe I was using a false identity, so convinced were they that I was male as "Mr" is what they had decided to call me. I had to provide evidence that I had all along used my real name and it was only them who assumed I was a man.

curiousuze Wed 23-Jan-13 07:55:52

I used to work in customer services and if I wasn't sure I'd put 'dear sir/madam' and not bother with a title on the address. That said, OP, I wish I had your problems.

Heebiejeebie Wed 23-Jan-13 07:50:24

I'm really surprised by the responses on here
If someone doesn't put a title, don't make one up, much simpler.
If the computer system is poorly written and doesn't allow that, it should be changed
Putting a (as likely to be wrong as right) title in a letter is not a law of the land or grammatically helpful. The default to Mr is a sexist hangover. Even the laws of succession are changing.
It's perfectly reasonable to make 5 or 500 foi requests in a month, esp if you are surveying different organisations (eg asking GP Surgeries if they have access to adequate translation facilities or baby changing areas)

Meglet Wed 23-Jan-13 07:27:47

Yanbu.

I have to send out letters via a database and have to default it to 'Mr' when the sex is unknown. I hate it and grind my teeth each time it crops up.

CelticPromise Wed 23-Jan-13 07:22:47

It is also, in ye olde letter writing rules, appropriate to address a married woman as Mrs Husband'sName Husband'sSurname. I would never do this either, because it may be ' correct' etiquette but it's flipping rude!

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