Way back before Brexit, reform of the Ombudsman was on the political agenda. It was proposed that a new Public Service Ombudsman (PSO) would replace both the PHSO and LGO. Here is our response to their proposition. It all got put on the back-burner and who knows when this will ever be top of the political agenda again.
Proposal for a new Public Service Ombudsman (PSO)
The Cabinet Office under the guidance of Chris Skidmore put forward draft legislation for the scrutiny of the House in 2016. Unfortunately, this draft legislation was not given parliamentary time following the Brexit vote and there has been no further progress on reform of the Ombudsman. This will be the first fundamental changes to legislation since 1967 and it is important that we use this opportunity (when it arises) to ensure that the reformed Ombudsman works to protect the citizen and not the public body. phsothefacts have compiled four key objectives for reform:
- Within the Single Public Service Ombudsman sphere there should be a designated Health Service Ombudsman for England in line with devolution. This body should be staffed by healthcare professionals no longer connected to the NHS with a remit to deal with complaints from primary, secondary and social care sectors. Best practice should be guided by the new Healthcare Safety Investigation Board (HSIB).
- To restore public confidence there must be improved accountability with an independent external review process for complaints made about the Ombudsman and independent external audit of decisions and reports in line with recommendations made by the Health Select Committee report Complaints and Raising Concerns (January 2015). Parliament should also be given greater powers of scrutiny through an appropriate select committee. In particular the ability to investigate individual cases.
- As the Ombudsman is the final arbitrator, this body must have both the power and the expertise to identify legal breaches. Any legal breach or breach of policy should automatically be determined as grounds to uphold a complaint.
- There should be an option to approach the Ombudsman after 30 days if no satisfaction is provided by the public body. Early mediation should be offered for those who wish to take a more informal route to resolution and advocacy provided to support complainants through this process for both health and parliamentary cases.
You can see more background information here
and read phsothefacts response to the Cabinet Office proposal here: