The Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, said the continued trend was concerning and called on the
Assembly to push forward with new Ombudsman legislation that will help drive up standards
of public service delivery.
The Ombudsman’s 2016/17 annual report and accounts showed that in total the
Ombudsman received 2,056 new complaints about public services in Wales and a further
236 code of conduct complaints against local government councillors. The total number of
enquiries and complaints has increased by 75% over the past six years.
Despite the challenge of increasing workloads the number of complainants who received a
positive outcome from their complaint, either through resolution of the complaint by the body
agreeing actions to put things right or a complaint upheld with actions agreed, increased by
16 per cent.
Complaints received about health now make up 38% of the Ombudsman’s caseload, and the
Ombudsman has assigned Improvement Officers to five of Wales’ Health Boards – Abertawe
Bro Morgannwg, Aneurin Bevan, Betsi Cadwaladr, Cwm Taf and Hywel Dda. In June, his
office held a seminar for staff in the health sector to discuss how to share learning and best
practice in complaint handling.
Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said: “The ongoing rise in
complaints about NHS bodies is concerning. A significant factor is the high volume of
complaints received about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and my Improvement
Officer will continue to work with the health board to ensure continued learning.
“There is evidence of a fear and blame culture still permeating some public sector bodies
and my thematic report Ending Groundhog Day: Lessons from Poor Complaint Handling
highlighted key areas for improvement. However, I’m pleased that following a health
complaint seminar held by my office recently, it’s clear that health board staff are keen to
strengthen governance, training and data collection arrangements to improve complaints
“I would urge the Assembly to push forward with the new draft Ombudsman bill in the
autumn. I am confident that if passed, the new legislation will allow cycles of poor service
delivery to be spotted more easily and dealt with greater efficiency.”