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The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
You should submit a complaint no later than one year from the date of the events you are complaining about (or from when you first became aware of the matter), although the Ombudsman can extend this time limit, for example, if the Local Resolution process took longer than a year.You have the right to take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with by the NHS. The Ombudsman is independent of the NHS and of government and their services are free and confidential.
The Ombudsman will look at every complaint that comes to them but they do not (and are not required to) investigate all the complaints referred to them; this is a matter for their discretion. They will not normally investigate your case unless you have already tried to resolve the problem using Local Resolution.
The Ombudsman can refer you back to the Local Resolution stage of the NHS Complaints Procedure if they think you have come to the Ombudsman too soon, or if they feel that the NHS organisation involved has not done all it can to resolve your issues locally.
The Ombudsman will not usually investigate a complaint where:
- You do not agree with a decision made by your NHS provider but cannot offer any evidence as to why their decision is wrong or unsatisfactory
- They decide that there is no evidence to suggest that the NHS provider acted wrongly
- They decide that the NHS provider or practitioner has done all they reasonably could do to put things right
- They decide there would not be a worthwhile outcome from an investigation (for example, if the remedy sought by the complainant is not possible through this procedure)
Initially, a member of the Ombudsman’s staff will consider whether your case meets the Ombudsman’s criteria for investigation. To carry out this assessment they may need to see clinical records and other papers involved in your complaint with this in mind a member of the Ombudsman’s staff will contact you to ask for any papers they need and will write to you to let you know the outcome of the assessment.
If you take your complaint to the Ombudsman, there are three main outcomes:
1. The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate the case and take no further action (for example, if they think that the NHS has done all it can to resolve your complaint locally).
2. The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate the case but may ask the NHS provider or practitioner to take action which they think would resolve your complaint more quickly without the need for an Ombudsman investigation; this is called an ‘intervention’.
3. The Ombudsman may decide to carry out an in-depth investigation resulting in a detailed report about the case; this investigation will be very thorough and can therefore take some time. The Ombudsman aims to complete 90% of investigations within 12 months.
If your complaint is investigated by the Ombudsman
- The Ombudsman will write a detailed report about the case.
- If the complaint is upheld they can make recommendations to the NHS provider or practitioner to put things right.
The Ombudsman’s decision
- The Ombudsman’s decision about your complaint is final.
- This includes their decision whether or not to investigate your complaint and their decision whether or not to uphold your complaint following an investigation.
Contact the PHSO
To take your complaint to the Ombudsman, visit http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint or call 0345 015 4033.