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My first impressions as new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

I have been touched by the warmth of my welcome into my new role of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Staff, stakeholders and public service providers have all been generous with their time, unfailingly helpful, and clear in their assessment of the organisation. Thank you very much.

I have been struck by our staff’s commitment to providing a high quality, user-friendly, public service. It is extraordinarily high. This is a good omen for the future, and an undoubted strength.

The depth of talent is extraordinary. We need to harness this talent to continue the transformation of our service to become more effective, more user-friendly and more outward-facing.

‘Playing the piano while moving it upstairs’

We need to do this without taking our eye off case-handling. This is what I called ‘playing the piano and moving it upstairs at the same time’ to the pre-appointment select committee hearing in January. It is certainly not easy to achieve since it puts additional pressure on our workloads and tests out our ability to handle change in a fast-moving environment.

In all of this, we need to keep listening to people who use our service and be flexible, but not unprincipled, in response. I know that this is exactly what Amanda Campbell, our Chief Executive, and the Executive Team are working towards.

The challenges of implementing change

The implementation of change is no less difficult than conceiving and planning it, and because the world does not stand still, it rarely looks exactly like what was planned.

For example, the reasonable assumption of autumn 2016 that a Public Service Ombudsman Bill would be enacted in 2017 is now rendered very unlikely, though not impossible, by the calling of a general election. This means we have to re-think what ‘convergence’ with the Local Government Ombudsman should look like and how long it should take.

Looking to the future

After a further period of intense listening, I will set out proposals that will feature during the course of my period as Ombudsman. In the meantime, I am keen to hear from people who use our service, the organisations we investigate and other stakeholders.

Next month I’ll be taking part in a Twitter Q&A through the @PHSOmbudsman Twitter account. If you have any particular questions or topics you’d like to us to focus on, please email them to Digital@ombudsman.org.uk

If you would like to give us feedback about our service, please email feedbackaboutus@ombudsman.org.uk

If you have any questions regarding an individual complaint please email Phso.Enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.