Two Northern Ireland (NI) authorities have indicated a willingness for the weekly publication of complaints against Health and Social Care facilities; however, the Department of Health refused to be drawn, citing the Minister’s respect for the independence of the Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman.

A number of authorities were asked if they would support or give consideration to supporting weekly publication of adult social care complaint decisions, similar to the system used by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for England.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman (NIPSO) advised they “currently publish reports in cases which reach the final stage of our investigation process and where we determine it is in the public interest to do so”.

They continued: “This includes complaints about social care. We have been considering increasing the range of decisions we publish as part of the development of a new website.

“The frequency of publication, the nature of the information we will publish, and how this will be presented on our website are part of that work, and will include the publication of decisions on social care complaints.”

Meanwhile, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority said it would await proposals from Public Service Ombudsman around Health and Social Care complaint arrangements, and “would give these full consideration when available”, continuing: “We are supportive of making the raising of complaints about Health and Social Care services more accessible for service users, families and others.”

However, when the Department of Health was approached, a spokesperson replied: “The NI Public Services Ombudsman is an independent body, and the Minister and Department will continue to respect that independence.”

Challenged on this, as the question was whether the Minister would support or give consideration to the initiative, which was not contained in the reply, the spokesperson responded: “In our view, the response answers the question.”