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‘Fear and Blame Culture’ Must Be Addressed

A “fear and blame” culture within Welsh public sector bodies must be tackled if lessons are to be learnt from complaints, an Ombudsman report has found

Ending Groundhog Day: Lessons from Poor Complaint Handling, highlights cases from across devolved public services in Wales where investigations by public bodies have been inadequate and failed the service user.

It is the second thematic report issued by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, in the past 12 months.

Other themes arising from the cases include inappropriate involvement of staff complained about, delayed, incomplete or inaccurate responses and inadequate investigation of complaints.

In some instances, the way in which complaints have been handled, and the subsequent outcome, were found to be “nothing less than absurd;” and strong leadership was needed to ensure a lasting impact for service users.

The Ombudsman called for effective governance across the Welsh public sector, robust staff training and improved methods of data collection.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:

“I am concerned that some public sector bodies are stuck in Groundhog Day mode where patterns of poor quality complaint handling are repeated endlessly.

“A fear and blame culture and a general defensive attitude towards complaints need to be tackled by senior staff to ensure these patterns don’t continue.

Only through committed learning and progressive leadership will we see a positive shift towards better complaint
handling.

“I would also like to see better data made available to identify patterns of poor complaint handling and to tackle bad practice.

“I am hopeful that new Ombudsman legislation, if passed by the Assembly, will allow the gathering and reporting of consistent and comparable data across public services in Wales.”

https://www.ombudsman.wales/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Ending-Groundhog-Day-Lessons-in-Poor-Complaint-Handling.pdf