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Role in relation to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PACAC receives a high volume of queries in relation to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

According to the House of Commons Standing Order 146, PACAC's role in relation to the PHSO is:

to examine the reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England, which are laid before this House, and matters in connection therewith

PACAC therefore scrutinises the PHSO's annual report and other reports that the Ombudsman chooses to lay before Parliament. Where these reports highlight failures in the quality and standards of Civil Service administration, PACAC may use them to hold the government to account.

The Committee cannot review the PHSO's adjudications on individual cases. This includes the PHSO's decisions on whether or not to accept a case. As the office of the PHSO is independent, adjudications cannot be overruled by a government minister or any parliamentary committee.

If you are not happy with a PHSO decision, you can ask the PHSO to review that decision. Further information about how to do this can be found on the PHSO website.

If you have asked the PHSO to review its decision in your case and you are not satisfied with the outcome of that review, the only option for further review is through the courts. Judicial Review is not an appeal of a decision with which you disagree. It is instead a challenge at Court that the way in which the decision was made was unlawful. You should also note that the Court cannot order the Ombudsman to investigate a complaint (see Re Fletcher's Application [1970] 2 All ER 527). They can only order that the Ombudsman take the decision again. If you wish to take this route, you may find the Citizens Advice website useful.

It is also possible to complain directly to the PHSO about the way in which it handled your case. More information about how to make a complaint can be found on the PHSO website.