Patients Association decries NHS ombudsman

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, the last resort for patients complaining about care in the NHS, isn’t doing its job properly. That’s the damning verdict of the Patients Association, which has published seven cases of patient complaints that it claims were poorly handled by the Ombudsman and its head, Dame Julie Mellor.

The Patients Association has concluded it has “no confidence” in the Ombudsman, which it has accused of ‘freezing patients out’. It has announced that it can no longer recommend that patients or their families refer their complaints to the Ombudsman.

The Patients Association’s conclusions will continue an on-going debate on how to improve quality of care and patient safety in the NHS – a debate thrust into the public eye by the publication of the Francis Report into the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire. The Association has recommended an overhaul of the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman to improve the speed at which complaints are dealt with, while also calling for greater contact with complainants.

The Ombudsman has announced the Patients Association will be helping it to draw up a service charter outlining what patients and their families can expect if making a complaint about poor care in the NHS.