Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman holds complaints handling consultation

17 August 2021

Author: Rachael McAdorey
Practice Area: Healthcare
Sector: Healthcare


The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (‘the Ombudsman’) has, under Part 3 of the Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, been provided with authority by the Northern Ireland Assembly to produce a set of principles and procedures to help standardise complaints handling by public bodies in Northern Ireland. The aim is to change the complaints culture within the public sector in Northern Ireland, and the Ombudsman has initiated a consultation period, set to run until 30th September 2021.

The draft six key principles are as follows:

  1. Start off right.
  2. Fix it early.
  3. Focus on what matters.
  4. Be fair.
  5. Be honest.
  6. Learn and improve.

For each of these six principles, the Ombudsman has set out what it expects public bodies to do when they receive a complaint. These include:

  • Acknowledge mistakes at the earliest opportunity;
  • Provide clear reasons for decisions;
  • Investigate complaints fairly; and
  • Use complaints as an opportunity for improvement.

The Ombudsman has asked interested parties to complete an online questionnaire, and provide feedback on the proposed set of principles and procedures by the above deadline. The questionnaire can be accessed here.

To find out more about the role of the Ombudsman, click through to our article here.