Some of these complaints still related to events that unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the measures and restrictions introduced to protect public health. Continuing the theme introduced in the previous years, the publication includes 2 cases related to the application of the ‘Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ (‘DNACPR’) procedure.
In addition, several further cases related to healthcare and housing highlight how failings of public service providers may have engaged human rights duties, or the FREDA principles of Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy – core values which underpin human rights.
The selection in the Casebook also includes some complaints related to equality duties – predominantly, the duty to offer reasonable adjustments to disabled people. However, there is also one example of a complaint concerning services for trans people.
Michelle Morris, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales said:
As I do every year, I must emphasise that it is not our role to conclude that someone’s human rights have been breached, or that they have been discriminated against. That is a matter for the Courts. However, we see in our casework every day that human rights and equality issues are often inseparable from people being treated unfairly and suffering injustice. Therefore, if we see that someone’s human rights or equality rights may have been engaged in the cases that we consider, we will state that clearly in our conclusions and make appropriate recommendations.
We publish this Casebook to raise awareness of how we approach human rights and equality issues in our casework, but also to promote improvement of public services. For this reason, we also include several complaints that we did not uphold. We believe that this is important to better explain our approach to such cases, as well as to highlight correct administrative practice by the bodies investigated.
We were glad to see our work to promote equality and human rights publicly acknowledged this year by the House of Commons and House of Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights, in the context of that Committee’s inquiry into the merits of establishing a Human Rights Ombudsperson. The inquiry concluded that, given the work currently undertaken by our office and our sister organisations, there would be no merit in establishing a separate scheme. We hope that the selection presented in this Casebook will help to continue to raise awareness of our efforts to promote and protect the human rights and equality rights of the people who use Welsh public services.
To read our Casebook, click here.