Time for a People's Ombudsman Service - Public Administration Committee Contents

8  Conclusion

106. The office of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has taken positive steps to try and improve the service it provides, by giving a formal final adjudication on more cases, and supporting agencies such as the NHS in good complaints handling. There remain individual complainants who are dissatisfied with PHSO's service. PHSO must continue to take their feedback and concerns seriously, and to work to improve the way that it communicates with complainants to ensure that decisions are transparent and explained clearly.

107. The present legislation limits how much PHSO can develop a more responsive and proactive ombudsman service. As a priority, the restriction on direct access (the "MP filter") in respect of non-health related complaints must be abolished; complainants must be able to make a complaint in any way, not just in writing; and the ombudsman should enjoy "own-initiative" powers and so be able to investigate concerns without having first received a specific complaint. In the longer term, we believe there is scope to change the way that ombudsman services are delivered in England. We recommenda consultation on the creation of a single public services ombudsman for England. At the same time, there must be a distinctive ombudsman service for UK non-devolved matters.

108. Out-of-date legislation and ways of operating contribute to a failure to meet the expectations of today's citizens. New laws,and a reassessment of the ombudsman service, will ensure that PHSO can take serious action in the same manner asbest performing ombudsman services in the UK and elsewhere.

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Prepared 28 April 2014