Health service failures highlighted in Ombudsman’s report

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The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has published more than 160 summaries of investigations showing a litany of health service failures in the NHS.

The Ombudsman service has published a report containing a snapshot of summaries of the complaints it has investigated between October and November 2014 during which it upheld 41% of the complaints it investigated.

The report contains summaries of 163 investigations, showcasing the wide range of cases the Ombudsman service investigates about the NHS in England and UK government departments and their agencies such as the UK Border Force, the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority and HM Courts &Tribunals Service.

Included in the report are cases about breaches of cancer waiting times, families resorting to putting their family in private care following unsafe discharges from A&E on Christmas Day, people wrongly losing their permanent status to reside in the UK because of poor advice and people going into debt due to incorrect benefit advice. During the investigation period, the Ombudsman made final decisions on a total of 618 complaints and upheld 41% of these. Approximately 80% of the Ombudsman’s investigations are about the NHS in England as opposed to UK government departments and their agencies. During the two-month period from October to November 2014, most of its NHS investigations were about hospital trusts, followed by GP practices and then mental health trusts.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said that good complaint handling had to start from the top, with leaders who recognise the valuable opportunities complaints provide to improve the service they are delivering.

“Many people complain about public services to enable lessons to be learnt because they don’t want the same thing to happen to somebody else,” she said.

Most of the 163 summaries published are cases the Ombudsman service has upheld or partly upheld that provide clear and valuable lessons for public services by showing what needs changing so it can be avoided in the future. They include complaints about failures to spot serious illnesses and mistakes by government departments that caused financial hardship.

The Ombudsman service investigates approximately 4000 complaints a year and upholds around 37% of them.

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