Health Service Ombudsman
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Ombudsman tests the Government and the NHS against her six principles of good administration
In her 40th anniversary Annual Report Putting Principles into Practice published today, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, calls for public bodies to put the customer at the centre of public services, using her six Principles of Good Administration 1 as a guide.
To celebrate the Office's 40th Anniversary Ms Abraham launched the Principles in March, and describes them as 'broad statements of what I believe bodies within my jurisdiction should do to deliver a high standard of customer service'. Many complaints investigated by the Ombudsman show a failure to follow the Principles, which have been welcomed across Government and the NHS.
Ms Abraham reported on 2,502 investigations over the year ending 30 March 2007, of which 1,363 related to government departments and a range of other public bodies in the UK (parliamentary), and 1,139 to the NHS in England (health).
The parliamentary investigations ranged across more than 100 government departments and agencies. The department with the highest number of complaints reported on was HM Revenue and Customs - mostly in relation to tax credits where 74% of complaints were upheld - followed by Department for Work and Pensions Agencies: Jobcentre Plus, the Child Support Agency and The Pension Service, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office (now the Border and Immigration Agency). Overall around two thirds (63%) of parliamentary complaints were upheld, in full or in part.
The Ombudsman upheld, in full or in part, 62% of all health complaints but 85% of complaints about continuing care, which remains a substantial area of work for the Ombudsman amounting to one third of all health complaints reported on.
On NHS complaints Ms Abraham said: 'It is disappointing that there was little progress nationally this year towards improved complaints handling. However I welcome the fact that complaint handling is now back on the agenda following the launch of the Department of Health's consultation document on integrating the handling of health and social care complaints, Making Experiences Count: A new approach to responding to complaints (June 2007). This integration was one of my recommendations4 in 2005 and my Office has had considerable input to the development of the proposals'.
Ms Abraham also welcomed the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare, which aims to make funding decisions on who is eligible for NHS continuing care 'fairer, faster and easier to understand'. The publication of the Framework fulfils her recommendation in her follow up report on continuing care issued in December 2004.
Notes to Editors
1. The six Principles of Good Administration are: Getting it right, Being customer focused, Being open and accountable, Acting fairly and proportionately, Putting things right, and Seeking continuous improvement.
2. Publication details: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Annual Report 2006-07 Putting principles into practice, HC 838, 18 July 2007.
3. From 19 July you can also read the reports on the website at: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk where you can find all publications mentioned in this notice.
4. The recommendation was made in the March 2005 special report Making things better? A report on the reform of the NHS complaints procedure in England.
5. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about government departments and a range of other public bodies in the UK, and the NHS in England. She is independent of the Government, the civil service and the NHS. Her services are free and confidential.