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Ombudsmen reveal benefits of integrated complaints investigations

An integrated approach to investigating complaints about health and social care has led to significant benefits, according to a new report by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

Published today, the report discovered that many of the problems experienced by patients have been caused due to the complex interaction between health and social care, making investigations difficult.

The report praises the Joint Working Team, which was set up in 2015 to investigate the most complex joint health and social care complaints and carried out 180 investigations in its first year.

Dr Jane Martin, the LGO, said: “Health and social care services provide vital support for some of the most vulnerable people in the country. For people who rely on these services when things go wrong, the impact can be life-changing. It is therefore essential there is a clear and simple to navigate route to achieving redress when the worst happens.

“The Joint Working Team has made it a less complicated process for people to bring a complaint and easier for the Ombudsmen to investigate issues which involve both health and social care.”

Common issues encountered in complaints include delays in assessment, poor care, safeguarding issues and a lack of appropriate aftercare for discharged mental health patients, meaning that they often involve a range of bodies such as social services, health trusts, CCGs and care agencies.

The Joint Working Team comprises investigators from both organisations who are trained to deal with complaints about both health and social care provision rather than specialising in just one of these areas, as they would have done previously.

PHSO Julie Mellor commented: “A fragmented health and social care system means that time and time again these services fail and vulnerable people fall through the cracks.

“For families who have gone through a confusing local complaints process, we have made it easier for them by setting up a joint team with the LGO.”

The report has been published two weeks after the government published draft legislation to create a new single Public Service Ombudsman which would investigate complaints across public services.

The two Ombudsmen have welcomed Westminster’s commitment to creating a single ombudsman, which they say will make it easier for people to complain.

The government are currently holding a 12-week consultation on the proposal which offers those concerned the opportunity to make comments and offer feedback. To access the consultation, visit:


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