Joint approach yields “significant benefits”, say ombudsmen

3 Jan 17

Two ombudsmen have hailed the success of an integrated approach to investigating complex health and social care complaints.

In a joint report published on 22 December, the Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said joining forces had led to “significant benefits”.

The report summarised the work of the Joint Working Team, established in 2015, which uses investigators from both offices who are trained to work across boundaries, rather than concentrate just on health or social care.

A total of 180 complaints were probed in the team’s first year of operation. Common issues flagged up include delays in getting care assessments, poor care or failure to provide services altogether, and lack of appropriate aftercare following discharge from hospital for those sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Local government ombudsman Jane Martin said when things go wrong with health and social care, people needed a clear and simple route to achieving redress.

“The Joint Working Team has made it a less complicated process for people to bring a complaint and easier for the ombudsmen to investigate issues which involve both health and social care.”

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor added: “A fragmented health and social care system means that time and time again these services fail and vulnerable people fall through the cracks.

“For families who have gone through a confusing local complaints process, we have made it easier for them by setting up a joint team with the Local Government Ombudsman.”

Mellor said she and Martin welcomed the government’s commitment to creating a single public service Ombudsman, which will make it easier for people to complain when they have been let down by a public service.”

Draft legislation to set up a single public service ombudsman was published in early December.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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