In this edition, we include information about our recent public interest reports and decisions on several Code of Conduct referrals published since January. We also talk about our new guidance on complaints about ‘nosocomial’ COVID-19, the launch of our new Strategic Plan, and our annual Sounding Boards with external stakeholders.
We are currently working on our Annual Report. It will include all our recent casework and performance data, which we will talk about in detail in the next newsletter. However, I can already signal that our casework has continued to increase. One of our main challenges in the coming year will be how to continue to deliver justice under increasing workload pressures.
During the last quarter of 2022/23, we received 2354 new cases – of which, 784 became duly made complaints.
We also closed 2381 cases – of which, 823 complaints. In the last quarter alone, we closed 84 investigations.
We issued 2 public interest reports and 1 special report.
We found that Cardiff and Vale University Health Board failed to adequately assess the patient’s clinical history and new symptoms and did not admit him to the ITU after surgery. This ultimately led to his deterioration and death. Read our report here.
We found that dignity of a patient with bowel care needs was compromised after Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board failed to deliver appropriate medical and nursing care. Read our report here.
We issued a Special Report about Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, after the Authority has failed to comply with the recommendations issued, and agreed to, over 3 years ago. Read our report here.
We had decisions on 3 referrals to Standards Committees.
Our report concerned a complaint that the Councillor behaved inappropriately when she responded in German to correspondence she received in Welsh. The Standards Committee of Cyngor Gwynedd decided that the Councillor should be suspended for 1 month, attend training and apologise in writing to the complainant within 3 weeks.
Our report concerned a complaint that the Councillor had behaved inappropriately during an interaction with other members. The Standards Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council decided that the Councillor should be suspended for 1 month and attend Code of Conduct training.
Our report concerned a complaint that the Councillor made an alleged false complaint about the complainant to the Police, relating to an incident which occurred on a bus. The Standards Committee of Wrexham County Borough Council decided that the Councillor should be suspended for 3 months.
We also had a decision on 1 referral to Adjudication Panel for Wales.
Our report concerned a complaint that the Former Councillor had failed to declare personal and prejudicial interests at two Council meetings. Adjudication Panel for Wales decided that the Councillor should be disqualified for 12 months.
We know that many members of the public are concerned about how they, or their loved ones, acquired COVID-19 while receiving care in NHS settings such as hospitals. A COVID-19 infection acquired in an NHS setting is called ‘nosocomial’ COVID-19.
In March, we published guidance on our approach to complaints about ‘nosocomial’ COVID-19 (see here). We also shared this guidance with Chief Executives and complaints officers of Welsh Health Boards to make sure that they are aware of how we will deal with these complaints.
On 4 April, we launched our new Strategic Plan: A new chapter, which sets out our four Strategic Aims:
Our online launch was very well attended – thank you to all who joined us on the day. We are now looking forward to putting the Plan to work, for the benefit of people of Wales.
On 10 May we held an event for the Senedd Members and their staff.
All were invited to come in and talk to Michelle and our staff about the Strategic Plan and what it means for the public services and standards of conduct in local democracy in Wales.
We thank Luke Fletcher MS for kindly sponsoring this event.
We held three Sounding Board sessions in April 2023, with local councils, Health Boards and housing associations. 44 organisations were represented. We had feedback on some areas that we could improve – for example, how consistent we are when setting deadlines for organisations to send us evidence. However, overall the feedback was very positive.
We also convened our annual Sounding Board with advice and advocacy bodies. 14 organisations attended that session. They shared with us some feedback on things we could do better – for example, they highlighted that our process would be difficult to use for someone with learning disability. We also discussed opportunities to work together.