Consultation display

Consideration of powers: Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

Response to the consultation

Evidence submitted in response to this Consultation

Purpose of the consultation

The Finance Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the Consideration of Powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (“the Ombudsman”). The role of the Ombudsman was established by the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005. The current Ombudsman has highlighted five main areas for changes to the 2005 Act that he believes will strengthen the role.

 

The Committee will consider these five areas:

  • own-initiative powers – this would enable the Ombudsman to initiate his/her own investigations without having first received a complaint about an issue;
  • oral complaints - at present, the Ombudsman can only accept complaints in writing, this would allow the Ombudsman to accept oral complaints;
  • complaints handling across public services – this would enable the Ombudsman to have a role in advising on complaints handling across public services;
  • the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction (to include private health services) – this would extend the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to enable him/her to investigate when a patient has received private healthcare (self-funded, rather than being commissioned by the NHS) in conjunction with public healthcare; and 
  • links with the courts - the removal of the statutory bar which would allow the Ombudsman to consider a case that has or had the possibility of recourse to a court, tribunal or other mechanism for review (this would give complainants the opportunity to decide which route is most appropriate for them).

 

In addition, the Committee may also consider the following:

  • jurisdiction – given the changes to the devolution settlement have led to new areas coming into jurisdiction over time, whether consideration should be given to other bodies being included in the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction;
  • recommendations and findings - whether the recommendations of the Ombudsman to public bodies should be binding. This would mean that bodies cannot decide to reject the findings;
  • protecting the title - there has been a proliferation of schemes calling themselves ombudsmen, often without satisfying the key criteria of the concept such as independence from those in jurisdiction and being free to the complainant. Whether anyone intending to use the title ombudsman should have to gain approval from the Ombudsman;
  • code of conduct complaints – the Ombudsman would prefer to focus on the element of his/her work that deals with service users and service delivery, rather than local authority and town and community councils’ resolutions. Whilst a local resolution procedures exists and has been adopted by 22 local authorities, variance exists in practice; and
  • any aspects of future planned or proposed public sector reforms that would impact on the role of the Ombudsman and any other aspects of the 2005 Act.

 

 

Invitation to contribute to the inquiry

The Committee welcomes responses in Welsh or English from both individuals and organisations and will hold oral evidence sessions in due course.

 

Submissions should be no longer than five sides of A4, with numbered paragraphs, and should focus on matters set out above. Please see guidance for those providing evidence for committees.

 

Disclosure of information

You can find further details about how we will use your information at http://www.assembly.wales/en/help/privacy/Pages/help-inquiry-privacy.aspx. Please ensure that you have considered these details carefully before submitting information to the Committee

Supporting documents

Contact details

Should you wish to speak to someone regarding this consultation, please use the below contact details:

Finance Committee - Fourth Assembly
National Assembly for Wales
Pierhead Street
Cardiff
CF99 1NA

Email: Contact@Assembly.Wales
Telephone: 0300 200 6565