“We have no credibility”. That was the response of a woman with a mental illness who put a complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman. Unlike many – not just patients but also a significant number of NHS staff – she had heard that the Ombudsman could carry out a completely independent investigation of complaints although she was not clear about the extent of his jurisdiction. Some people feel intimidated when trying to take on what they see as a powerful and defensive NHS and others experience a sense of despair that because of their illness their concerns have no validity. Those providing care and treatment generally do the best they can to attain high professional standards but delivery does not always match expectations and the outcome can be a complaint. Services for the mentally ill are not immune from shortcomings and, if local management fails to satisfy the complainant, the Ombudsman can step in.
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