Today we published our Annual Report and Accounts for 2017-2018, which documents the transformation we have been through this past year.
In my first year as Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman we have brought the focus back to our core service of complaint resolution, while improving our transparency and building partnerships with key stakeholders.
A period of change and modernisation
In 2017-18, we introduced a new operating model, an extensive staff training programme and moved the majority of our operations from London to Manchester as part of our efforts to continue to provide a high-quality ombudsman service while facing a 24% budget reduction.
These important and necessary changes have had an expected, but short-term, impact on waiting times and the number of cases we have been able to complete. However our priority is to improve service delivery and we expect to see the benefits materialise next calendar year.
A number of new initiatives have allowed us to reach new audiences, promote openness with partners and help build public trust and confidence.
We’ve now held two annual open meetings where we listen to and learn from a wide-range of stakeholders including complainants, complaint handlers and advocacy organisations.
I’ve particularly enjoyed recording our Radio Ombudsman podcasts where I host frank discussions on topics ranging from patient safety to good complaint handling.
Working with others to improve public services
Another key focus has been working with strategic partners to improve how the public sector responds when things go wrong. I have visited several NHS trusts that provide effective complaint handling, which we and other public service organisations can learn from.
This past year we published a number of insight reports, including on eating disorders and mental health, to share the unique learning from our casework with the organisations we investigate, regulators and policy makers to help them to improve public services for everyone.
In the longer term, we plan to publish the vast majority of our casework on our website so that everyone can see more clearly the impact of our work on public services, and complaint handlers can improve their understanding about good practice.
In April we published our new corporate three-year strategy which formalises much of the important work we have started over the past year so we can continue on our journey to becoming an exemplary public services ombudsman.
We aim to succeed by working closely with our strategic partners, those who use our service, organisations we investigate and fellow ombudsman organisations. In the coming year we’ll continue this engagement, to improve how the public sector responds when things go wrong, learn from experiences and continue to modernise our service.