MPs Call For Health Watchdog Overhaul

MPs Call For Health Watchdog Overhaul

28.04.2014

Britain's public services watchdog is ‘stuck in time’ and must be overhauled, according to a group of influential MPs.

Politicians on the Public Administration Committee have released a report that claims the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is not doing enough to ensure that government departments and the NHS are being held to account, reports the Telegraph.

In order to improve the service, the Public Administration Committee wants to see the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman become a "people's ombudsman" that works harder to investigate problems reported by ordinary members of the public.

According to the committee, people should have the right to complain directly to the watchdog about the NHS or government departments.

Currently, complaints must be referred to the ombudsman before they are heard, meaning many are never investigated and problems remain unsolved.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin said: "Our voters have a right to complain about public services when mistakes, misunderstandings and maladministration occur. We so often see that people complain not for their own benefit, but to ensure lessons are learned and the same mistakes are not inflicted on others."

This is not the first time a government watchdog has been criticised in recent years.

Last year, MPs on the Health Select Committee criticised the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for failing to ensure inspectors were thorough enough when checking for issues at hospitals, GPs surgeries, care homes and dental practices.

"There have been too many reports of CQC inspections which focus on easily measurable inputs, rather than the essential quality of care provided," a report into the body noted.

Countering these issues, David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said these concerns would be noted and that action will be taken to ensure that inspections are more accurate.

However, criticism of the CQC has eased in recent months, as the service introduces new benchmarks for its inspections that focus more heavily on community care and patient outcomes rather than more traditional measures.

Expert Opinion
The majority of clients that contact us are frustrated by the lack of answers and accountability from the NHS when theirs or a family member’s care falls below what was expected.

“Patients and families who make a complaint about care provided by the NHS should be confident that it will be investigated thoroughly and, where possible, lessons will be learned to ensure no one else has to suffer a similar ordeal.

“Improving patient safety must be at the heart of every health watchdog and we hope that any potential overhauls of both the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and CQC, ensure the NHS continually strive to provide the best possible care.”
Julie Lewis, Partner