National Ombudsmen
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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman reports on complaints about government departments and the NHS

‘A service for everyone’ is how Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, describes her Office’s role in resolving 23,667 enquiries from the public last year.

Published recently the Ombudsman’s Annual Report 2010-11 explains the different ways her Office has resolved complaints about government departments and agencies or the NHS in England over the last year. While more cases (403) were taken on for formal investigation compared with the year before – including double the number of complaints about government bodies – the Ombudsman’s Office also resolved over 600 cases directly, without the need for a formal investigation.

Ann Abraham explained:

‘We take time to advise and assist people with making a complaint, and to find swift and direct solutions where possible. As a result, only a few hundred of the complaints we resolved last year needed a formal investigation.’

The report reveals which government departments and which type of health bodies generated the most complaints to the Ombudsman in 2010-11. The three most complained about government departments were the Department for Work and Pensions (2,462 complaints), HM Revenue & Customs (1,671) and the Ministry of Justice (924). More complaints were received about NHS hospital, specialist and teaching trusts than any other health body (6,924). In addition, there were 2,714 complaints about primary care trusts and 2,581 complaints about GPs.

The report includes examples of the different ways the Ombudsman’s Office resolved complaints about public services during the year, including:

  • Breaking through bureaucratic gridlock on behalf of a man who was severely injured during a robbery and left unable to work, and who waited years to be compensated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
  • Intervening to help a family whose application to stay in the UK had been turned down by the UK Border Agency because of a failed fee payment. The Ombudsman’s work to assess the complaint revealed that the UK Border Agency held an incorrect bank card number for the family.
  • Securing compensation for a woman who became unintentionally pregnant because her GP had failed to insert a contraceptive implant correctly.

The report also explains the steps the Ombudsman’s Office is taking to ensure her service is accessible to everyone who needs it and, for the first time, includes demographic information about the people who use the service and their levels of satisfaction with the service they received.

Ann Abraham concluded:

‘Often, people who contact us feel frustrated or worn down by what has happened or their experience of complaining about it. The complaints system can be complex to understand and navigate and we work hard to ensure that our service is accessible to everyone, no matter what their circumstances, or what their communication needs are.’

The full report is available from

Notes to editors

  1. Ann Abraham holds the post of Parliamentary Ombudsman and is also the Health Service Ombudsman. She is appointed by the Crown and is completely independent of government and the NHS.
  2. The Ombudsman’s role is to consider complaints that government departments, a range of other public bodies in the UK and the NHS in England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service.
  3. To contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Press Office please call 0300 061 4996/3924 or email


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