New Bill aims to make Ombudsman more responsive and citizen-focused
A new Bill has been introduced which could extend the powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and make the role more responsive to the people of Wales.
The proposed Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill aims to make it easier for people to make complaints by removing the requirement to formally make complaints in writing.
It would also mean that the Ombudsman could undertake investigations without having received a formal complaint - a factor which could help some of the most vulnerable in society who feel they cannot speak out.
The Bill has been introduced by the Assembly’s Finance Committee, the first time a committee has brought forward such legislation, and aims to drive improvements in public services and in complaint handling.
It will expand the powers of the Ombudsman in Wales, affording him the ability, for the first time, to investigate private healthcare providers where patients have commissioned the treatment alongside that provided by the NHS. Currently, they must make two separate complaints, to two separate bodies.
Chair of the Committee Simon Thomas AM said:
“The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has a crucial role in representing the people of Wales when they have received poor service or have been treated unfairly by public services.
“As a Committee, we want this role to be strengthened, to be more responsive and citizen-focused.
“Taking away the requirement of a formal written complaint is a simple step in doing this and will allow the more vulnerable in society to engage with the Ombudsman’s office and make complaints when needed.
“Allowing the Ombudsman to investigate the whole complaint, when a patient has received a combination of public and private health services is essential in making sure that the investigation follows the citizen, not the sector.”
The Bill will be considered by the Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee at the first stage of the law-making process.
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has the legal powers to look into complaints about public services and independent care providers in Wales. The office can also investigate complaints that members of local government bodies have broken their authority's code of conduct. The Ombudsman is independent of all government bodies.
Find out more:
Read the background on the Bill (PDF, 995 KB) Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill (PDF, 337 KB)