Latest Public Sector News


80% of public sector ombudsman complaints are about NHS

Nearly 80% of all complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) are about the NHS in England, a new report has revealed.

The other 20% of complaints the service receives concern government departments and their agencies, such as the Border Force, DVLA and HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The report contains summaries of 163 investigations completed in October and November 2014 by the Ombudsman service. During this period it made final decisions on 618 cases and upheld 41% of these complaints.

It outlines some of the worst failings of services. The non-NHS cases include one in which a man received £1,000 following a delay by the DVLA in reinstating his driving licence, after he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The DVLA revoked his licence as soon as it found out his diagnosis, however once it received more information from a consultant stating that he was fit to drive, it took seven months longer than it should have done to reinstate the licence.

The Ombudsman service's investigation found that the explanations and advice the DVLA gave about the revocation were very poor.

In another instance, a failure by Jobcentre Plus to tell a man about benefit rules led him into debt. The complainant wanted to separate from his wife and move into a council property. He told Jobcentre Plus he was doing this but the service neglected to inform him that unless he sold his previous property, he would lose entitlement to income support when it was due to be reviewed after 26 weeks of the change.

When it was discovered some months later, his income support was stopped and he had to move back into his marital home as he could not afford to rent the council property without his benefit payments and he was unable to get his wife to sell the house.

The investigation found that he suffered significant stress and inconvenience as a result of Job Centre Plus not providing him with the correct information.

Another investigation found that the UK Visas and Immigration service advised a woman from New Zealand to apply for the incorrect type of visa, which led to her wrongly losing her permanent status to reside in the UK. Following the Ombudsman service's investigation, her residency status the UK was reinstated.

A ruling against the UK Border Force meant they had to pay a company more than £12,000 after it damaged several sacks of bran during a routine inspection of a lorry in Dover. The company, which supplies cereals to manufacturers in the UK and Europe, had a lorry stopped for inspection and officials used sticks to probe the contents of the sacks which damaged the packaging to the extent that the contents could no longer be used.

PHSO Julie Mellor said: “These case studies – which are a snapshot of our work – show the wide range of unresolved complaints we look at, many of which should be resolved by the organisations locally, without people having to refer the complaint to us.

“Good complaint handling has to start from the top, and leaders will recognise the valuable opportunities complaints provide to really improve the service they are delivering.

“Many people complain about public services to enable lessons to be learnt because they don't want the same thing to happen to somebody else.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >