Ombudsman calls for feedback to develop service charter

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Service is today calling on past, present and future service users and the organisations it investigates to provide feedback on its service to help develop its service charter.

This is the start of a comprehensive listening exercise centring on what people can expect from the Ombudsman’s investigations and service.

The service charter will be a set of promises to individuals and bodies in jurisdiction, designed to create a modern and responsive service.

The new service charter will give people a clear understanding about what they can expect from the Ombudsman Service and what will be involved in an investigation, with a focus on better communication throughout the service user journey.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigates complaints from individuals about UK government departments, and other public organisations, and the NHS in England. It carries out adjudications independently, without taking sides, providing a final chance for people’s complaints to be looked at.

In 2012 the Ombudsman Service, responding to feedback from the public, moved from doing hundreds to thousands of investigations every year. It has halved the average time it takes to complete a case whilst still maintaining satisfaction levels giving many more people justice than before.

The Ombudsman Service investigates 4,000 cases a year and upholds around 42 per cent. The biggest driver of satisfaction with any Ombudsman Service is whether the complaint is upheld or not.

The Ombudsman Service is now focused on listening and learning from people’s experience of its service so it can better understand what people and service providers expect from the organisation. In summer 2014 the Ombudsman announced it would conduct a public consultation to develop a service charter as part of the next phase in the organisation’s modernisation agenda.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said:

We would welcome people’s views on what they want and expect from us. We will use people’s responses to develop a service charter - a set of promises so service users, the public and service providers know what they can expect from us.'

The engagement exercise will take place between January and March 2015 and the Office for Public Management (OPM), an independent research organisation, has been commissioned by the Ombudsman Service to design and deliver the project.

OPM will recruit past, current and potential future users of the Ombudsman’s service to take part in workshops in February, in London, Manchester and Birmingham, to offer their views on what the service charter should include.

There will be two consultation panels, which will play a critical role in developing the charter. A panel of advocacy organisations and a users’ panel - made up of complainants. The panels will comment on findings and themes from the research and advise on the development of the service charter.

A website has been set up to capture views and opinions through an online survey. The site will also provide regular updates with all the developments surrounding the service charter visit: to get involved.

A draft service charter will be consulted on in the spring and finalised in the autumn.

Contact: Ben Miller

Phone: 0300 061 4324