Health ombudsman pledges modernised service with new charter

21 Oct 14
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is to develop a new charter of pledges as part of its revamp of the complaints procedure for the NHS and other government department and agencies.

By Marino Donati | 21 October 2014

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is to develop a new charter of pledges as part of its revamp of the complaints procedure for the NHS and other government department and agencies.

This is the second part of its drive to change the procedure, following recognition that the service needed to be more user focused.

The charter will be comprised of a set of promises, so the public and providers know what is expected from the service. It will be based on feedback, research and engagement with service users, past and present, consumer and advocacy groups and organisations that are investigated.

The ombudsman said it would give people a clear understanding of the time it will take to complete an investigation, how it will be carried out, and be more open and transparent.

The first phase of the modernisation drive focused on more investigations. The ombudsman investigated 2,199 cases in 2013/14, compared to 384, and halved the time to do an investigation.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said that service needed to ‘modernise’ to give more people an independent, impartial and formal decision a complaint.

‘We have already made some important changes,’ she said.

‘We have completed six times as many investigations as the year before and halved the time taken to complete an investigation. But we want to do more to listen and respond to what people have told us they want from an ombudsman service.’

Last month, the ombudsman promised to use its existing discretion to consider whether an effective investigation is possible on complaints about serious health cases, for example allegations of avoidable death, more than 12 months old.

The Service Charter will be developed with public consultation and is due to be finalised by April.

In August, the ombudsman began publishing anonymised searchable case summaries of the complaints it investigated. It will publish the next batch of case summaries on October 29.

 

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