MDDUS welcomes single Public Service Ombudsman

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release: Tuesday, 16 June 2015

UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS welcomes moves to make it easier to complain about public services in England with the creation of a single Public Service Ombudsman (PSO).

A proposal is currently under consultation for a single unified service involving a merger of the existing parliamentary and health service ombudsman with the local government and potentially housing ombudsman.

The aim is to ensure that it is straightforward for the public to complain about public services, while ensuring organisations can respond quickly and effectively to the complaints.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny says: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to create a Public Service Ombudsman that will provide a simpler and more transparent way for members of the public in England to appeal when their complaint about public services has not been resolved by local services.

“One of the advantages of an integrated service is that it will be able to highlight weaknesses in an organisation instead of placing the blame on an individual. Organisations will then have an opportunity to improve their service by taking responsibility for problems and tackling their root causes.

“However, there should be no reduction in rigour and fairness of clinical investigations during the implementation of the unified service. These complaints are different in kind to others which the ombudsman deal with and need to be handled properly by staff with the necessary clinical knowledge, skills and experience, rather than fitted into a common template.

“We agree with the proposal that each sector within the organisation should be led by a senior ombudsman or someone with equivalent status. For example, the senior health ombudsman should have expertise in providing advice regarding clinical issues raised in complaints in the NHS and should have access to expert resources when needed.”

MDDUS does not believe there should be an enhanced role for a PSO as a champion of complaints handling across the public sector.

“We do not support an enhanced role in terms of dispute resolution and complaint handling,” says Kenny. “We believe the ombudsman would serve the public better by focusing on individual investigations, rather than launching cross-cutting enquiries of their own.

“The health regulatory field is crowded enough without the public and practitioners being confused by the addition of another body and the ombudsman being tempted to chase headlines instead of resolving cases.”

Ends

For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email rihendry@mddus.com.

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.

For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com.

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