About ombudsmen

Where ombudsmen work

Ombudsmen exist to investigate and resolve disputes for citizens and consumers in the United Kingdom (including its devolved countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), in Ireland and also in some of the British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

They deal with complaints about most public services and some private services, although the latter are quite limited and currently are mainly (although not exclusively) in regulated areas.

There are also Complaint Handler Members of the Association which have similar functions to ombudsmen but do not meet all of the criteria for Ombudsman membership.

United Kingdom

Public sector (public services)

Devolved countries of the UK (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland):
  • Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (for complaints about devolved national departments, including the NHS, prisons and universities, and local authority departments and agencies in Scotland)
  • Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (for complaints about devolved national departments including the NHS, and local authority departments and agencies in Wales
  • Northern Ireland Ombudsman (for complaints about devolved national departments,  local councils, education and library boards, organisations providing Health and Social Care (HSC) Services in Northern Ireland and prison health care)

Private Sector (consumer goods and services)

Only certain private organisations/sectors are currently covered by ombudsman schemes, as follows:

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Ireland

Public Sector (public services)

  • Office of the Ombudsman (for complaints about national and local government departments and agencies, including health)

Private Sector (consumer goods and services)

Ombudsmen in Ireland exist in only very limited private sector areas, currently:

The membership in Ireland meets as a group in the Irish Ombudsman Forum. The Forum discusses issues pertinent to Ireland in particular and allows Association members to share experience and exchange ideas. The Forum meets approximately four times a year and is currently chaired by a member of the Executive Committee, Kieran FitzGerald.

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Britain’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories

Public sector

For complaints about most government departments and their agencies, and public services:

Private sector (consumer goods and services)

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Other complaint handling bodies

All of the schemes in the sections above are full ‘Ombudsman Members’ of the Association (even if they do not have ‘Ombudsman’ in their title) and therefore conform to the criteria for Ombudsman Membership.

In addition, there are many Complaint Handler Members of the Association, some of which have similar functions to ombudsmen but do not meet all of the criteria for Ombudsman membership (even if they do have ‘Ombudsman’ in their title!). They do generally however meet the requirements for Complaint Handler Membership.

In some cases, it is necessary to bring a complaint to one of the relevant Complaint Handlers before going on to the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman if the complaint remains unresolved.

A full list of Complaint Handler Members is available here - they cover the following areas:

United Kingdom

Ireland

Crown Dependencies

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Consumer complaints

Please note: there are currently no ombudsman schemes for many areas of consumer goods and services.

For advice and information about consumer goods and services, you should contact:

In the UK:
Citizens Advice Consumer Service Tel. 0345 404 0506

In Ireland:
Citizens Information Board
Tel. 0761 07 4000

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