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New public service ombudsman to be created

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The parliamentary, health and local government ombudsmans are to be merged into a new public service ombudsman, the government has confirmed.

A draft bill, published by the Cabinet Office today, says the new ombudsman’s remit will be broad, extending into government departments as well as councils and the NHS.

Cabinet Office minister Chris Skidmore said: “The core role of the ombudsman will continue to be the investigation of complaints where a public body has not acted properly or fairly or has provided a poor service. We will also give the ombudsman a wider and more explicit role in championing improvements in complaints handling and promoting good practice.”

Plans for a single ombudsman were first announced in the 2015 Queen’s Speech, following a recommendation by the Commons public administration committee.

Last month it was announced Local Government Ombudsman chief executive and accounting officer, Michael King, is to become the body’s new chair when incumbent Jane Martin’s term ends on 10 Jan 2017. The health service ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor is due to step down in the new year. A replacement is currently being recruited. 

In a joint statement Dame Julie and Ms Martin said: ”The current complaint system is too complex and fragmented, leaving people confused as to which ombudsman to turn to if things go wrong or haven’t been resolved locally.

“We have long been urging the government for these reforms, and are delighted we are one step closer to making this a reality.

“We will be looking at the proposals carefully and look forward to working with the government to agree a practical and realistic timescale.”

 

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