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Introduction

This Factsheet is about complaints relating to flawed or inadequate record-keeping on the part of bodies within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. It should be read together with our general information booklet about our service.

Thorough record-keeping is necessary to ensure accountability in decision-making. It is also often a good practice requirement and is set out in the appropriate guidelines assisting public bodies in the delivery of their services.

 

What the Ombudsman can do

Although the initial grounds of a complaint to the Ombudsman may not necessarily include any reference to record-keeping, the Ombudsman may nevertheless uphold at least part of a complaint where the record-keeping has been flawed or inadequate.

The Ombudsman considers that examples of flawed or inadequate record-keeping will include the following:

• where a public body has failed to record sufficient information as required by specified guidelines;
• where a public body has failed to adequately record the reasons for some of the decisions or actions it has taken;
• where there is evidence of falsification or tampering with records.

The Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about requests for access to the records of deceased patients made under the Access to Health Records Act 1990.

What the Ombudsman cannot do

Although the Ombudsman is able to comment on the adequacy of a public body’s record-keeping, the Ombudsman is generally not able to investigate complaints relating to an individual’s access to records.

The Ombudsman cannot investigate:

  • Whether records held by a public body have been incorrectly withheld from an individual who is requesting them (unless the complaint relates to a request for access to the records of deceased patients made under the Access to Health Records Act 1990);
  • Whether a public body has failed to correct inaccurate records about an individual.

 

Issues to bear in mind

The Ombudsman’s governing legislation places restrictions on the disclosure of information obtained by the Ombudsman during an investigation. This includes any records supplied to the Ombudsman by a body within his jurisdiction.

A report issued by the Ombudsman will usually contain all relevant details of any flawed or inadequate record-keeping.

 

Further information

If you have been prevented from accessing records held by a public body, or if you are concerned with the accuracy of records which a public body holds about you, you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) by telephone on 0303 123 1113 or you can visit the website: www.ico.org.uk.

If you are concerned that a public body’s record-keeping is flawed or inadequate, and you have already complained to the public body without success, you should initially contact the Ombudsman’s Complaint Advice Team on the details provided below.

You should also contact the Ombudsman’s Complaint Advice Team if your complaint relates to a request for access to the records of deceased patients made under the Access to Health Records Act 1990.

A full list of the bodies within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman can be found on our website.

The Ombudsman is independent and impartial; he cannot order public bodies to do what he recommends – but, in practice, they almost always do. Examples of cases that the Ombudsman has looked at can be found on our website

 

Contact us

If you are unsure whether the Ombudsman would be able to look into your complaint, please contact us.