Rob Behrens begins his new role as Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Chair of the organisation today (Thursday 06 April 2017).
Rob has considerable experience of investigating allegations of public service failure and, as a result, bringing redress to service users. His previous roles include Complaints Commissioner at the Bar Standards Board and Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (Office of the Independent Adjudicator) in England and Wales.
Rob transformed the Office of the Independent Adjudicator into an outstanding ombudsman service by focusing on promoting best practice and providing a more efficient and effective service to complainants.
Following this he became Visiting Professor at the University College London Institute for Education and also Chair of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education. Rob was made a CBE for ‘services to higher education’ in the New Year’s Honours List, December 2015.
Leading modernisation and continuous improvement
Working in partnership with staff, the Chief Executive and the Board, Rob will lead the modernisation and continuous improvement of the organisation as demand for the service increases.
This includes preparing for Ombudsman reform, which aims to create a single, more accessible and modern Public Service Ombudsman (PSO), making it easier for people to have their complaints about public services resolved. A Draft Bill for the new Public Service Ombudsman has been published by Government.
Commenting on his new role as Ombudsman, Rob Behrens said:
It’s an honour to be able to lead such a dedicated workforce at a time of vital transformation. The public sector faces significant challenges over the next few years which is why an independent and impartial ombudsman service is more important than ever.
‘I will listen carefully to complainants, organisations we investigate and our staff to understand how we can improve the quality of our complaint handling and speed up the time it takes for people to get answers.
‘I will continue PHSO’s practice of sharing findings from our investigations to help drive improvements in government departments and the NHS in England so they can provide the best possible service to the public.’
The CEO of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Amanda Campbell, added:
Rob has a strong track record of complaint handling which will be invaluable to the organisation. He is a great advocate for an independent service that makes impartial final decisions on complaints about public services. We are delighted to have someone of his calibre and expertise joining us.’
Bernard Jenkin, MP and Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in parliament, said:
Rob Behrens brings an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the role of the Ombudsman to this position. His past experience at the Office of the Independent Adjudicator in Higher Education will stand him in good stead as he takes on the diverse and complex post of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. I look forward to working with the new Ombudsman to continue to drive change to public services.’
The Health and Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committees endorsed the appointment of Rob Behrens to be the new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman following their pre-scrutiny hearing in parliament on 18 January 2017. The House of Commons approved the appointment on 24 January 2017.