the authors’ conclusion that:when the Select Committee reported in 1993 that there was a consensus to the effect that the Commissioner had always maintained a ‘sturdy independence’ few would have quarrelled with that judgement. The Select Committee seems to have played an equally important and pro-active role in the development of the Health Service Commissioners’ remits. An inquiry by it in 1971 was followed by the Government announcing that it intended to set up three Health Service Commissioners, one each for England, Scotland and Wales with all three posts being held by the same person (subsequently the Parliamentary Commissioner).
Health services everywhere are traditionally seen as having been captured by the suppliers of the service. The evolution of the Health Service Commissioners’ roles subsequently mirrors the fundamental changes and Land Property conveyancing courses restructuring which took place in the health service itself aimed at introducing greater competition and better performance into the supply of services and a greater focus on clients and patients.
The extension of the Commissioners’ jurisdictions to cover clinical judgement and the relatively trouble free passage of the legislation through Parliament in 1996 are a tribute to the professionalism of the Office. As the authors put it, all these developments placed the office “at the apex of the new amplified NHS Complaints System. It was an inspired decision by Sir Michael Buckley, the recently retired Parliamentary Commissioner, to commission this book at a time when the institutional framework within which the offices had been set up was changing. Those involved in mapping out the future of the offices following recent Parliamentary devolution and the recommendations in the Collcutt Report, will benefit greatly from this book.
Part IV which reviews the strengths and failings (and there are failings) of the Parliamentary Commissioner’s office and Chapter 8 which assesses the performance and future prospects of the Health Service Ombudsman, contain the views of two authors who have an unrivalled knowledge of ombudsmanship and the practical workings of ombudsman offices around the world. It is a book which should also appeal to everyone involved in independent complaints investigation.