Radio Ombudsman: From ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’ to the challenges of being an Ombudsman

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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Earlier this week I sat down with Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to record our second Radio Ombudsman podcast.

Michael, or Mick as he is also known, was born and grew up in Liverpool and has had a long and successful career in the public sector. He spent 15 years in public protection services, before joining the Local Government Ombudsman in 2004.

Transparency, best practice and reform

In our frank conversation, Mick and I touched on a broad range of subjects including his early life and career, the challenges our organisations face, how we can learn from each other, and ombudsman reform. The conversation was also steered by questions submitted by Twitter users.

Mick spoke about what the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has done to improve over the years, and also shared best practice from some of their recent work to increase transparency and accountability. We discussed the potential for own-initiative powers to enable the Ombudsman to investigate in a situation where a complainant is unwilling or unable to come forward, and we even had a brief debate about whether the term “ombudsman” is gender neutral.

Mick and I also considered the ways in which the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman can continue to work effectively together while waiting for the Public Service Ombudsman Bill to become a reality, and concluded by discussing what an ideal ombudsman service should look like.

Helpful insights and valuable lessons

I hope that our discussion will provide helpful insights for the public into the workings of ombudsman services, and valuable lessons for other ombudsman and public service organisations. We will, of course, continue the conversation with other ombuds colleagues from around the UK, as well as our international counterparts.

Radio Ombudsman is just one of the ways we’re engaging with complainants and organisations we investigate and work with. We held our first Open Meeting in November last year in Manchester and will be holding a second in May in London. Further details will be announced shortly.

Listen now

You can listen to the podcast below:

You can also read a transcript of the podcast or download a pdf of the transcript (PDF 408KB).

Please share widely and let us know what you think by leaving a review or comment on SoundCloud or tweet us @PHSOmbudsman with #RadioOmbuds.

Our next podcast

We record our next podcast in March. Sarah Barclay, Founder of the Medical Mediation Foundation will join us to discuss approaches to mediation and dispute resolution. Tweet your questions with #RadioOmbuds, DM @PHSOmbudsman or email

Follow us on SoundCloud for future podcast updates.