In the wake of the Francis Report into failings at the Mid Staffordshire Hospital, PASC is launching two new inquiries into how complaints about public services are handled. The first will focus on the NHS, but as part of a cross-departmental inquiry looking into people’s experiences with the front-line services across Government, such as: the DVLA; the Borders Agency; Jobcentre Plus; the Tribunals Service; the Courts; the Passport Service; regulators such as the Financial Services Authority and successor bodies; British embassies and consulates abroad; as well as government departments, including the Cabinet Office and No 10.
The first inquiry, entitled Complaints: do they make a difference?, will look at whether the current complaints system delivers fairness, redress, and justice for people who complain, and to examine how departments and agencies use complaints as a source of information and challenge, to improve the delivery of public services. It will also look at how ministers and officials handle complaints made by MPs on behalf of their constituents.
The second inquiry, entitled, Parliament’s Ombudsman service, will look at the work of the Ombudsman in terms of both performance and effectiveness, and try to establish how its remit and function can best serve both the public in access to justice, and Parliament in driving improvements in complaints systems and the performance of Government and public services.
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), said:
“The British are famously bad at complaining, but businesses have learned to use complaints as a vital source of information and improvement. The same should apply to public services. The Mid Staffs tragedy shows what happens when complaints are not heard.
We aim for these inquiries to enable a better leadership and governance of complaints processes; of how government and public services should respond to complaints; and how to make better use of them.”
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