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“When the public complains, leaders in government need to pay attention” says Julie Mellor as complaint figures are revealed

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has published new findings today which reveal the number and nature of complaints about government departments and agencies in 2013. 

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is the final step for people to complain to about the NHS in England and UK government departments and agencies. We received 7,588 enquiries in 2013 about UK government departments and agencies. Of these we took a closer look at 1,812 and 640 were taken forward for investigation.

Details about the nature of complaints we have investigated and how well departments and agencies have worked with us to put things right have also been published. These highlight how the failure by government departments and agencies can have devastating impacts on individuals and their families. Cases include the stories of a child who had to wait nearly ten years before their immigration application was decided, an individual who had their medical records shared inappropriately and a sexual assault victim whose suffering was compounded by mistakes in their treatment. 

Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said:

‘Our case work illustrates the impact that failures in public services can have on the lives of individuals and their families. Good complaint handling can ensure justice for an individual but can also mean that the same mistakes do not happen again and the quality of public services improves.  

‘Today’s findings present an opportunity for public leaders to embrace a culture of openness and to value complaints as critical for learning, improving and innovating. Strong and innovative leaders will recognise the valuable opportunities presented by complaints to really improve the way they run their organisation and deliver good public services. 

‘We will be carrying out research into how departmental boards are engaging with complainants and using complaints to learn and improve the way they work and look forward to working with the Cabinet Office and all government departments and agencies to make services better for the public.’

In 2013 the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman received 7,588 enquiries about government departments and public bodies. Of these:

  • We looked at 1,812 in more detail, known as the assessment stage and 640 were accepted for investigation. 
  • The Department for Work and Pensions had the most initial enquiries.
  • The Home Office had more complaints assessed than any other Department.
  • The Ministry of Justice had the most complaints accepted for investigation.

The findings published today do not include complaints about the NHS: 

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s review of government complaint handling 2013

About the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

  1. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman was set up by Parliament to help both individuals and the public. Its role is to investigate complaints at the final stage when individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from government departments and other public organisations and the NHS in England. Its powers are set out in law and the service is free for everyone. 
  2. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is the final step for people who have been treated unfairly or received a poor service from the NHS in England, or a government department or agency. It carries out investigations and makes recommendations to government departments to prevent the same problem from happening again.

Contact: Marina Soteiou

Phone: 0300 061 4996


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