Ombudsman publishes new service charter

26 Jul 16

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman today published a new set of standards and updated guidelines regarding its function and purpose. 

It follows a public consultation by the ombudsman to review the service it provides.

The ombudsman makes final decisions on unresolved complaints about the NHS in England, government departments, and other public bodies. It conducts around 4,000 investigations every year, the vast majority of which are about the NHS.

The new quality standards have been published in the form of a charter, which outlines what people can expect from the service, such as regular communication, fact sharing, and clarity when explaining decisions.  

A wide range of parties were involved in the consultation which fed in to the new charter, including previous complainants, NHS and public sector organisations, and advocacy groups and staff.

Published alongside the charter, are guidelines explaining what happens when a complaint is brought to the ombudsman at each stage of the process. They also explain the factors that influence the final decision, and the reasons why a complaint may or may not be investigated.

According to a statement, the aim of the exercise was to provide the public with a full and clear understanding about the ombudsman’s powers and processes. It also said the service has identified a strong link between satisfaction levels and whether complaints are upheld.

Julie Mellor, parliamentary and health service ombudsman, said: “We have listened to people and are clear about what they want and expect from us.

“This is reflected in the new Service Charter, which is a set of quality standards which we will report on, and our commitments to people who use our service.”

She added: “We recognise it will take time for us to meet these commitments but we will work hard to do so and will be open and transparent about our progress.”

The ombudsman will begin publishing information regularly on its website from the end of 2016 and report to parliament, in line with the service charter.

Last month, it was announced that Mellor will leave the post once the Public Services Ombudsman Bill receives royal assent but is likely to remain in post for the next 18 to 24 months.

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