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Ombudsman over the surgeon's shoulder

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 20 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:136

The health service ombudsman has been called the grumbling appendix of the NHS: the complaints he handles are not the most acute in the realm of health care but have to be taken seriously. Although much of the apparatus of a patient friendly NHS is now in place, such as charter standards, the ombudsman serves as a reminder that shortcomings still persist. Indeed, the Commons select committee which shadows his activities recently lamented the repetition of similar failings year after year. Twenty years after the establishment of the ombudsman's office the committee could report “no obvious improvement” in delays in handling complaints, losing notes, and general communication with patients. However, the ombudsman himself, Sir William Reid, observed that the ratio …

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