Health Ombudsman 'Ineffective For Many Families'

A New Report Suggests The Health Ombudsman Is Failing UK Families

18.11.2014

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) that has been labelled "ineffective" amid reports it is failing families in the UK.

This is according to the Patients Association, which has published a document discussing the matter, in which it calls for significant improvements to be made to the service.

Currently, the PHSO is the final body for patients to contact if they have any concerns or complaints about treatment they have received while under the care of the NHS, after they have reported their issue to their GP, dentist or another party of a similar level.

However, the Patients Association has revealed it receives calls every week from patients who are not happy with how the ombudsman has handled their complaints, with this often creating further distress for those dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Around £40 million goes towards funding the PHSO each year, but the Patients Association has said it has "no idea how it really does its job" and is subsequently calling for a significant overhaul of the service.

The association has even stopped referring patients to the ombudsman due to its concerns about its adequacy.

In some cases, when complaints lead to a prolonged investigation, families have had to give up their job, placing themselves in a tough financial situation so they can provide all the evidence they are required to for the case, while also dealing with the demands of the PHSO.

However, the ombudsman has responded to these worries by saying it is in the process of improving its service.

Speaking to BBC News, a spokeswoman from the PHSO commented: "We have embarked on a radical modernisation drive which includes listening to feedback from users.

"We are delighted that the Patients Association has agreed to help us draw up a service charter, which will be a set of promises to users about what they can expect when they use our service."

Expert Opinion
The findings of this report are extremely concerning as it is vital patients have faith in the health ombudsman and that any complaints made to the organisation will be dealt with swiftly. It is vital that those wishing to complain about care and treatment standards are dealt with sensitively without the process adding further to the distress of losing a loved one as a result of mistakes and errors in care.

“The organisation plays a vital role in holding medical professionals and services to account and it is crucial that the service provided by the health ombudsman is improved and an investigation is conducted to understand in more detail the reasons for patients and their families no longer feeling comfortable approaching the organisation.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner