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In line with all public services in Wales, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is closely monitoring the ongoing situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and managing the impact on our organisation, as well as on the key public services we work with.

I am acutely aware of the current pressures on public services, and I aim to support providers, rather than add any additional pressures, during these challenging times. Equally, we recognise that many people are more reliant than ever on public services as a result of this crisis. It is important that we continue our signposting service which directs vulnerable or isolated individuals to services which can provide them with support at this difficult time. That is why we continue to provide our service, but we will remain flexible and responsive to the needs of public service providers at this time. We are in touch with health boards, the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and local authorities and we will be guided by them in determining whether and how we can progress complaints at the moment.

We are not progressing any complaints or investigations relating to GP surgeries or pharmacies at present, and neither are we accepting trivial complaints, such as those relating to changes to waste collections as a result of the pandemic.

We are encouraging providers to liaise with my office if their ability to supply information and engage with us is compromised by reduced capacity and increased pressures. Many complaints arise from – or are made worse by – unreasonable expectations on the part of some members of the public. We are supporting public bodies in this regard when complaints with no merit are made to my office by closing them down quickly. With capacity within services likely to be stretched, we encourage providers to set realistic timescales with complainants regarding their ability to respond. Deadlines can, of course, be extended in these exceptional circumstances.

In a fast-moving situation, we will, of course, keep our website updated with any important developments from my office.

Nick Bennett

Ombudsman

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