A Health Board left a daughter waiting in excess of 13 months for a response to a complaint about the treatment of her mother, an Ombudsman special report has revealed.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, found that Powys Teaching Health Board showed a ‘lack of respect and courtesy’ in its liaison with Mrs A (anonymised). Despite having agreed to issue an apology and a complaint response, the Health board failed to fulfil its promise, even after a number of reminders from the Ombudsman’s office.

It is only the second time he has issued a special report against an NHS body since being appointed six years ago.

The Health Board’s Chief Executive, Carol Shillabeer, has agreed to personally respond to the Ombudsman having undertaken a review of its complaints handling team and its ability and capacity to deal with complaints.

The report revealed that information received from the Health Board had been misleading and updates provided had done nothing but raise Mrs A’s expectations that a resolution to her complaint, which she originally made in July 2019, was forthcoming.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:

“The events giving rise to me issuing this report give me significant cause for concern about the Health Board’s management of its complaint handling function and also its candour.

“I consider it unacceptable for a major public body to fail to take prompt and effective actions to ensure that agreed recommendations are implemented, and to fail to live up to what are, in effect, binding promises to me as Ombudsman.

“While my office remains sensitive to the pressures on public services provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, the original agreement with Powys Teaching Health Board pre-dates this period and I fully expect the Health board to comply with my recommendations.”

“I am hopeful my office’s new Complaints Standards role will have a positive impact on complaint handling in Wales and I would encourage Health Boards to fully engage with training that my staff are currently rolling out.”