Patients and their families have accused the Parliamentary and Heath Service Ombudsman (PHSO) of siding with the NHS during investigations.

The PHSO was established to investigate complaints made by patients and their families regarding poor or unfair care.

However, the independent regulator has come under intense criticism lately, with many calling for its head Dame Julie Mellor to resign.

Report by the Patient’s Association

The grievances of patients have been taken to the Patient’s Association, which has since compiled a damning report into the Ombudsman.

The report created by the Patient’s Association found that:

  • More than half of patients claimed the PHSO “takes sides with the organisation it is investigating”
  • Nearly half felt it was “unwilling to challenge” NHS organisations
  • The Ombudsman “fails to investigation complaints fully”
  • The Ombudsman “produces final reports full of inaccuracies”
  • It “makes patients feel like they are a nuisance for complaining”

One of the 200 patients who raised concerns was Mr Poulton, whose wife died from ovarian cancer in 2013.

He complained to the Ombudsman about the care his late wife received, but says the investigation was inadequate.

“Fact were wrongly stated, wrongly interpreted and in addition other relevant facts were not considered at all”, he said.

“I felt totally let down by the Ombudsman. They seemed very ready to evade things and not confront failings at the hospital.”

Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

This experience was shared by many parents whose babies died at the scandal-hit University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.

James Titcombe’s son Joshua died at Furness hospital in 2008 after a simple infection was left untreated.

The Ombudsman refused to investigate the death, saying it would be “unlikely to result in a worthwhile outcome.”

The regulator later carried out an investigation after Mr Titcombe began a judicial review, but concluded there was “no evidence that the midwives colluded to present ‘false evidence’”.

This conclusion has been overturned in a report by Dr Kirkup who chaired an inquiry into the Trust’s failings.

He found that in actual fact midwives had made a “significant and regrettable attempt to conceal” the truth and this was “allowed to distort some of the processes of the investigation that ensued.”

“Let down” by Ombudsman

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient’s Association, said: “Patients feel completely let down by the PHSO which overlooks or ignores evidence, takes far too long to communicate with families, is dismissive and insensitive and leaves patients feeling that they are in the wrong for raising a complaint.”

If you too feel like you have been let down after complaining to the PHSO, it may be worth speaking to a solicitor about the options available. If there are grounds for a medical negligence claim, you will be able to take legal action against the NHS organisation at fault.

For more information, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors.

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