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Warm Front: how early engagement with the Ombudsman helps to resolve complaints

Lessons learnt

In these cases, our involvement provided a prompt for; further action either during our investigations or even before we started. The; way the Department and Carillion acted in these cases provides some valuable examples; of how organisations should respond to our involvement and complaints more; generally.

  • Organisations; should always look for opportunities to resolve a complaint, whatever stage; of the complaints process it is at. The Department and Carillion knew that. The; fact that these cases had not been resolved before they reached us did not stop; them working hard to get the right remedies for the complainants.
  • Organisations; should look for innovative ways to investigate or resolve complaints. A; difficult case may need a different course of action. The Department are; looking at how they might learn lessons from our approach to investigations that; involve difficult technical matters.
  • Organisations; should engage positively with Ombudsman investigations, to achieve; appropriate and quick resolutions for complainants. From the very first case -; when they met us very quickly - the Department and Carillion reacted to us in a; positive way. They used the cases as an opportunity to understand what had gone; wrong and what would resolve the problem, and to provide that resolution; swiftly.
  • Organisations; should always try to improve. As a result of our investigations, the; Department and Carillion are continuing to consider how they can improve their; complaint handling so that cases do not come to us at all. The Department have told us that they are looking at how they can help complaint handlers at an early stage, so that fewer complaints need to be taken further. We have offered to; help them with this. The Department have also shared our Principles3 with Carillion to help improve how they handle complaints. Carillion appear to; have taken this on board, and are in touch with us to get a better; understanding of how they might use our Principles.
  • Organisations; should work closely with their contractors to resolve complaints. A public; organisation's use of private contractors to deliver services should not be a; barrier to effective complaint handling. Public organisations are still; accountable for services and must make sure that they have effective; arrangements for complaint handling. The Department and Carillion eventually worked well together to resolve these complaints.

3 Ombudsman's principles.