When Rob Behrens took over as Ombudsman in April 2017 he knew it would take time to restore public confidence in the organisation. Dame Julie Mellor, the previous Ombudsman, resigned in July 2016 under a cloud of collusion but stayed in office until Mr Behrens took over.
In the 2018 Peer Review Peter Tyndall and team described this time as:
In recent years, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has faced organisational crisis. Issues affecting its previous leadership also resulted in a loss of trust in the PHSO. To use a medical metaphor familiar from the Ombudsman’s casework, this report concludes that, under its current leadership, the organisation is moving out of ‘critical care’ and into ‘recovery’.
It would appear that Dame Julie Mellor had brought the organisation to its knees but fortunately Rob Behrens was a man with a plan .
The new corporate plan introduces a streamlined operating model and improved corporate training for staff to both quicken the average 234 days it takes to adjudicate a complaint and deal with a 24% funding cut. The strategy will be implemented from next April  after the PHSO moves its main office to Manchester this month … The plan will also help the watchdog recover from what Behrens called a “loss of confidence” following the controversial resignation of his predecessor.
Nearly 18 months later, let us see how the ‘streamlined operating model’ and ‘improved corporate training’ is working to restore public confidence. We can start by looking at the figures collected by PHSO customer feedback. PHSO send customer details to a third party who collect this data on their behalf. There is no open access to this survey for all service users. Amazingly, during the time of ‘organisational crisis’ PHSO achieved some of its highest satisfaction ratings. The 2018/19 scores give an indication of whether the new corporate plan is having an effect and apart from those with a full uphold (what’s not to like about a full uphold?)the scores are in decline and still a significant way from the highest confidence scores achieved during the ‘crisis’ years.
In this digital age there are other available routes to sharing your views on an organisation such as ‘Google reviews’. Recent reviews on the ‘Millbank Tower, London’ site fall into a similar, negative vein. While those on the Manchester site are more mixed in their opinion
Then there is Trust Pilot where the most recent reviews continue to give damning accounts of negative experiences at PHSO.
From the evidence above, you and I might consider that the plan is yet to deliver but no
doubt there will be much back slapping and mutual appreciation displayed at the Annual Open Meeting
soon to be held in Manchester.
So how about you – are you feeling confident about PHSO yet?