We can all play a ‘watchdog’ role in ensuring that our public services are properly administered and that public officials are accountable.
Lessons learned from individual complaints can help drive improvements in public services that benefit us all.
This guide provides an overview of the work of some of the key agencies that handle complaints from members of the public about public services and public officials. It includes advice and tips on how to complain.
Our rights and opportunities as citizen watchdogs
A wide range of agencies and regulatory bodies have a role in overseeing the delivery of public services and ensuring that government and public bodies are accountable.
In some cases, their job is to set standards for public bodies. For example, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) sets standards on safety and quality for hospitals and social services.
Other agencies have been set up specifically to handle complaints from members of the public if the standards set by law or regulatory agencies are not being met.
Bodies that handle public complaints
There are many different complaint-handling bodies that you might consider turning to, depending on the nature of your issue or complaint.
These include several different Ombudsman bodies, including some that investigate complaints about particular industries like banks, insurance companies and the press.
- If you are unhappy about how a child has been treated by a public body, you can complain to the Ombudsman for Children.
- If you feel you have been mistreated by a member of An Garda Síochána (the police), you can complain to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
- If you feel that your human rights have been breached or you have been discriminated against in the workplace or in relation to services, you can complain to the Human Rights and Equality Commission.
- If you believe that certain public officials have breached rules in relation to standards of behaviour in public life, you can complain to the Standards in Public Office Commission, special Oireachtas Committees for the Dáil and Seanad, or your local authority.
All of these agencies will generally help you to make use of their services, which are provided free of charge.
You should not need professional help or advice. You can, of course, use professional help if you wish. In some cases, for example where the rules are particularly complex, this may be advisable.
For more informaiton, see this list of complaint handling bodies, including a range of Ombudsman bodies.
By engaging with agencies that handle complaints about public services and standards, we can seek redress for our individual complaints.
A complaint by one person can also expose wider problems or highlight legal or procedural loopholes related to how our health services, government departments, or other public bodies operate.
When public bodies listen and learn from an individual's complaint, they can take steps to make sure the same mistake does not happen again. In this way, individual complaints can drive general improvements in public service standards for everyone.
When you have a duty to report wrongdoing
In some cases, you may have a duty to report wrongdoing to various public authorities, or face criminal sanctions. For example,
- If you have reason to believe that a criminal offence may have been committed, you should report to the Gardaí.
- Suspicions of child abuse should be reported to the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) which is responsible for child protection and welfare.
- Employees are obliged to report certain breaches of health and safety laws to their employers and to the Health and Safety Authority.
Whistleblowing is an effective way of preventing wrongdoing in the workplace and public life. Many cases of fraud, corruption and abuse of children and elderly people that we know about have been exposed by whistleblowers.
Apart from our health and safety laws, there is no general obligation to report wrongdoing in the workplace. But there are legal procedures and protections for workers in both the public and private sector against being penalised by their employers for reporting workplace wrongdoing. The term wrongdoing includes criminal offences, discriminatory behaviour, gross mismanagement or miscarriages of justice.
The protections are contained in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, which allows employees to make ‘disclosures’ in the public interest without fear of suffering reprisals from either their employers or their co-workers.
If you are considering reporting workplace wrongdoing, it is recommended that you get professional advice about your options, your rights and the consequences of making a protected disclosure.
This could be from a trade union official or from an outside lawyer. Some employers operate internal helplines that allow workers to seek professional advice before making disclosures.
The Resources section of this guide has more guidance on where to get information about workplace whistleblower protections.
Complaining about public services and public standards
This guide provides information and advice on complaining if you:
• feel you have been unfairly treated by a public body, or
• wish to complain about poor standards in public life.
Even if your complaint does not relate to either of these two areas, you may find the general advice about how to make a complaint useful.
Complaining to the Ombudsman about public services
If you believe that that you have been unfairly treated by a public body, you can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman can examine complaints against hundreds of public bodies, including government departments, local authorities, public hospitals and publicly funded third level colleges and universities.
What you can complain about
The Ombudsman examines complaints of ‘maladministration’ by public bodies.
Put simply, maladministration is the opposite of good administration. It means being treated unfairly by a public body, such as being refused a service to which you are entitled.
Maladministration can include something that a public body has done, or something that it has failed to do.
Under law, the action (or inaction) has to be something that was, or may have been:
- taken without proper authority
- taken on irrelevant grounds
- results from negligence or carelessness
- is based on incorrect or incomplete information
- discriminates improperly against you
- is based on bad administrative practice
- goes against fair or sound administration
Examples of what you can complain about
Among other things, you can complain to the Ombudsman if a public body:
- Refuses to provide you with a service or a benefit to which you are entitled – for example, if you are disabled and your local council refuses to award you a grant to adapt your house.
- Makes an unfair decision – for example, if your health board refuses to provide you with a medical card that has been granted to others in your exact circumstances.
- Does not communicate properly with you – for example, if your hospital does not give you adequate information in a clear manner to allow you to make an informed decision about a medical procedure.
What you cannot complain about
In some specific circumstances, the Ombudsman has no power to investigate complaints. These include if you have already started court proceedings about the issue. This means that you have formally initiated a legal action, and served notice of this on the public body concerned.
If you are considering making a complaint to the Ombudsman, it is a good idea to check first with the Ombudsman’s office that it has powers in relation to your issue.
If in doubt, you can go ahead and submit your complaint to the office of the Ombudsman. It will advise you whether it can handle your complaint.
Who can complain to the Ombudsman?
Anyone can make a complaint to the Ombudsman. You can complain on your own behalf or for someone else if they ask you to. You can make a complaint as an individual or as a public representative, business or organisation. The Ombudsman has a complaints form on its website. You can download this, fill it in and send it by post. Or you can submit your complaint online and include electronically attached documents.
Time limits for complaining to the Ombudsman
There are time limits for you to bring your complaint to an Ombudsman. In the case of the Ombudsman, you must make your complaint within a year of the decision or action of a public body, or the outcome of any internal complaints or appeal process. For the Ombudsman for Children, this is extended to two years.
Public bodies you can complain about to the Ombudsman
There is no official list of public bodies that you can complain about to the Ombudsman. This is to ensure that as many bodies as possible are included, including nearly all public bodies and many publicly-funded bodies.
However, as a guide, here are the main bodies covered:
- Government departments and agencies – all 16 government departments and all the various bodies that come under government departments
- Local authorities – the 31 County and City Councils
- The Health Service Executive and agencies that it funds
- State-funded hospitals and some voluntary agencies which provide services on behalf of the Health Service Executive
- Third level educational institutions
Around 200 of the bodies whose behaviour you can complain about to the Ombudsman first came under the remit of the Ombudsman's office on 1st May 2013. For these bodies, the Ombudsman can only examine complaints for actions which occurred on or after 1st May 2013.
An indicative list of the bodies is published on the Ombudsman’s website.
If you are unsure whether the Ombudsman can handle complaints about a particular public body, you should contact the Office of the Ombudsman and ask.
Public bodies you cannot complain to the Ombudsman about
The Ombudsman does not have the power to investigate complaints about certain public bodies.
- Commercial State bodies, for example, the ESB (Electricity Supply Board) and An Post
- The courts
- Law enforcement bodies such as the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions
- An Garda Síochána (there is a separate Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission)
- Bodies which make binding decisions, such as the Employment Appeals Tribunal
Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman
Before turning to the Ombudsman you must try to resolve your problem with the public body itself.
This means that you should firstly complain directly to the organisation concerned, and give it a chance to sort things out. For example,
- If you consider that you have been wrongly denied a social welfare payment, you should appeal firstly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
- If you have a complaint about the health services, you should first use the Health Service Executive’s internal complaints procedure.
All public bodies must have their own complaints processes. Many publish details of these on their websites. If they are not available, you should contact the organisation and ask about their complaints procedure and what steps you need to take to start the process.
Internal complaints processes vary from body to body. For example, the Revenue Commissioners has a formal three stage complaints and review procedure, while the HSE’s complaints process involves only one stage.
If you have exhausted the public body’s internal complaint mechanism and you are still not satisfied, you should then take your case to the Ombudsman.
If you complain to the Ombudsman ‘prematurely’ – that is without fully exhausting the complaint channels within the public body – you will generally be offered advice and assistance before being redirected back to the local service.
What you can expect - how your complaint will be handled
The Office of the Ombudsman tries to resolve complaints through mediation and recommendations. Its job is to take an independent and fresh look at issues from both sides. It is not the Ombudsman's job to represent either side. If your complaint is accepted, the first step is for the Ombudsman to appoint a case worker to carry out a preliminary assessment.
This stage is generally informal. It allows the Ombudsman’s office to decide whether a formal investigation is necessary. You may be interviewed in an informal way at this stage, generally by telephone. If the Ombudsman can made a decision at this stage, it will do so. You will be advised of its decision in writing, and how it was reached.
The vast majority of complaints to the Ombudsman are resolved at this preliminary stage and do not go to the next stage of full investigation. However, if the Ombudsman cannot make a decision on your complaint, it will send it for a formal investigation.
Formal investigation of complaints
If the Ombudsman undertakes a formal investigation of your complaint, you and the public body you have complained about will generally be asked to supply more information.
The Ombudsman may ask you to forward correspondence, notes, emails letters, notes of phone calls etc. The Ombudsman can also demand any information, files or documents from the public body to help with its investigation.
At this stage, the Ombudsman will draft a ‘Statement of Complaint ’ in consultation with you. This is a concise summary of the content of your complaint. The investigation will be based upon, and be confined to, this statement. For this reason, it is important that the statement of complaint is as precise as possible.
Ombudsman investigations are carried out in private and do not involve any kind of formal hearing. They are usually carried out in writing, by letter or email. The Ombudsman’s office will usually ask you to reply to its correspondence within a certain time, and it is important that you are prepared to meet these deadlines .
Types of recommendations the Ombudsman can make:
The Ombudsman generally tries to resolve complaints through recommendations to the public body complained about. It may ask the public body to do some or all of the following:
- review what it has done
- change its decision
- offer an explanation or an apology
- provide you with financial compensation for any financial loss, or loss of time and trouble in making your complaint
For example, you may have complained to the Ombudsman because your local council refused to award you a grant to adapt your house. If the Ombudsman finds that the Council did not apply the proper considerations, he can recommend that you be awarded the grant, or that the Council looks at your case again and applies the proper considerations.
The Ombudsman’s website provides more examples of the sort of complaints that can be made and the outcomes that have been achieved.
The Ombudsman cannot force a public body to do anything
The Ombudsman’s recommendations are not legally binding. This means that he cannot force a public body to do anything. However, the Ombudsman enjoys a high level of respect and his recommendations are usually accepted (with a few notable exceptions). It is important to realise that the Ombudsman cannot directly change the law. So, if the public body makes its decision in accordance with the law but you think the law in unfair, the Ombudsman cannot rectify it. That requires legal change.
What the Ombudsman can do is make recommendations for laws to be changed.
Complaints to the Ombudsman generally take several months to finalise. In 2013 more than half (58 %) of cases were closed within three months, with 90% closed within 12 months, according to the office's Annual Report.
The Ombudsman generally upholds between 15 % to 20 % of complaints, according to the Ombudsman's office. A further 25% to 30% of people who complain receive some form of assistance from making a complaint to the Ombudsman.
The Do It Yourself section of this guide contains tips on how to make a complaint to a public body and the Ombudsman
The 'playing field' can be uneven
If you are in a dispute with a public body, it will generally have resources to defend its decision, as well as access to information and legal advice that you may not enjoy. The Ombudsman’s office exists to help individuals to resolve complaints using an even-handed process. However, given the inevitable power imbalance between individual citizens and public bodies, it may not be possible to create a totally 'even playing field' between you and the public body.
Appealing the Ombudsman’s decision
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint to the Ombudsman, you can:
- ask the office to re-examine your complaint. At this appeal stage, you can supply more information, or information which you believe the Ombudsman may not have taken into consideration. You must make your appeal within a month of receiving the Ombudsman’s decision letter.
- consider taking legal action against the public body you have complained about.
How individual complaints can help solve wider problems
Sometimes an individual complaint will expose a systematic problem or procedural loophole. Where this happens, the Ombudsman can make recommendations for reforms to the particular body involved, but also include more general recommendations to other public bodies. This can help prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future, reducing the likelihood of other people being affected in the same way.
For example, on foot of a complaint in 2013, the Ombudsman found that Laois County Council was wrongly applying the rules for dealing with applications for social housing.
The Ombudsman helped resolve the individual complaint. He also asked the Department of Environment and Local Government, which oversees the operation of the local government system, to issue fresh guidance to all 31 local authorities about how to apply the regulations for assessing applications for social housing. Read more about this complaint.
In order to help public bodies to learn from how it has examined complaints, the Ombudsman publishes a quarterly Ombudsman's Casebook. It highlights complaints and shows what other public bodies are doing well, and not so well.
Ombudsman for Children
If your complaint relates to a child or young person, you can complain to the dedicated Ombudsman for Children.
The job of the Ombudsman for Children is to specifically look after the rights of children and young people under the age of 18. Children may make the complaints themselves or adults may do so on behalf of children.
These could be parents or extended families as well as professionals such as teachers and youth workers.
For example, the parent of a child with a disability could complain to the Ombudsman for Children if they have been allocated housing by their local council which is not suitable to the child’s needs.
In addition to the public bodies covered by the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children can also hear complaints about:
- primary and post-primary schools
- the five children’s detention centres registered with the Department of Education and Skills and the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA).
The Ombudsman for Children operates in much the same way as the Ombudsman.
As well as investigating individual complaints, the Ombudsman for Children works to promote the rights of children and young people as set out in the United Nations Convention Rights of the Child. You can fill in an online form to complain to the Ombudsman for Children, or contact the office directly.
The Department of Social Protection and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are the top two government departments complained about to the Ombudsman, according to its figures for 2013 .
Most complaints handled by the Ombudsman for Children are to do with the health services and education.
Complaining about standards in public life
People working in politics, the civil service and national and local government have a legal duty to behave with integrity.
One of the main ways this is regulated is by requiring politicians and certain public servants to declare private financial, business and property interests that they have that could potentially conflict with their public duties.
Private interests that must be declared include things like investments, assets such as land and shares, company directorships, and gifts received over a certain monetary value.
The idea behind these disclosure rules is that a person’s private interests could influence, or appear to influence, their impartiality or objectivity in performing their official duties.
By asking them to declare their interests, the rules try to minimise the risk that a conflict of interest will arise, or, if it does, to ensure that steps are taken to manage it.
• The annual declarations of ‘registrable interests’ of all TDs and Senators are available online on the Oireachtas website. These declarations of interest are updated each Spring and published a year in arrears. This means that interests that TDs and Senators hold for 2015 are not published until Spring 2016.
• At local government level, interest declarations by certain employees and all councillors are maintained in registers which are available for public inspection in local authority offices.
Some County and City Councils publish councillors’ interest declarations on their websites. However, for most Councils these declarations are only available for inspection in the Councils’ offices during office hours. The Toolkit Guide to Local Government has more details on how to complain to your local authority.
There are also rules for some officials for where an actual conflict of interest arises between a person's functions and his/her interests, or those of a person connected to them, such as a spouse or child. These mean that in some cases officials may be required to withdraw from being involved in making a decision.
What you may complain about
The law is quite complex in this area and there are also different rules about which bodies you can complain to as a member of the public.
Failure to declare interests
If you consider that a TD or Senator has not made proper disclosures in their declaration of interests, you can make a complaint. Failure to make a proper disclosure would include where someone has not declared an interest that you are aware that they have, such as their ownership of rental properties or shares in a particular company.
Other breaches of ethics rules
You can also complain if you consider that particular public officials have breached other rules that aim to ensure integrity and high standards of behaviour in public life. Specifically, you can complain if you consider that the person has done something (or failed to do something) that is termed in our ethics laws ‘a specified act’.
This is an act or omission that is:
• inconsistent with the proper performance of his/her functions or with the maintenance of confidence by the general public and
• the matter is of significant public importance
There is little official guidance available to the public on what kind of behaviour by a public official would amount to a breach of this ethical rule. Generally, it would include behaviour that, while not illegal, is considered improper or unethical.
The kinds of acts in the past that have been investigated have included the alleged improper use by TDs of pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes for their private constituency work.
Two TDS who used official Oireachtas envelopes in this way were found to have behaved in a way that was inconsistent with the proper performance of their functions.
However, in the particular circumstances of both cases, the behaviour was not found to have been ’a matter of significant public importance’.
Also, a number of councillors have been found to have claimed travelling and subsistence expenses which were not due to them.
Codes of Conduct
TDs, Senators, Office Holders and civil servants (but not all other public servants) have to follow codes of conduct . These require them to act with fairness, impartiality and integrity. Most public bodies also have their own codes of conduct, which are generally available on their websites.
A complaint cannot be made about breaches of these codes. However, where the Standards in Public Officie Commission is examining a complaint that someone has breached ethics rules by doing a ‘specified act,’ it can take into account whether a code has also been breached.
How to complain
The body who you can complain to varies, depending on the type of public official or elected representative you wish to complain about.
TDs and Senators
If you are concerned that a TD or Senator (who is not an office holder, see below) has failed to declare a private interest in their annual interest declaration or has breached ethics rules, you can submit a formal complaint in writing to Clerks of the either the Dáil (for TDs) or the Seanad (for Senators). Complaints can be sent by email or post.
If the complaint is to be investigated, this will be done by the Select Committee on Members' Interests of the Dáil (for complaints about TDs) or the the Select Committee on Members' Interests of the Seanad (for complaints about Senators).
If you are concerned that an ‘office holder’ has failed to declare a private interest in their annual interest declaration or has breached ethics rules, you can complain to the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Officeholders generally include the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Ministers and Ministers of State, the Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle of the Dáil (Chair and Deputy Chair) and the Cathaoirleach and Leas Chathaoirleach of the Seanad (Chair and Deputy Chair).
Other public servants
Complaints may be made to the Standards Commission about other public servants, including the Attorney General, special advisers, certain directors of public bodies and civil and public servants.
Given the complexity of the complaints process in this area, it is a good idea to contact the Standards in Public Office Commission by phone or in writing for advice on how to proceed.
They can assist you in framing your complaint and in navigating the complex legal rules in this area of public life. If you decide to submit a formal complaint, you must do so in writing, by email or post.
The Standards in Public Office Commission provides some guidance to complaints .
Complaints may lead to investigations. Both the Oireachtas Committees and the Standards Commission can investigate complaints.
• The Standards Commission does not usually require complainants to attend hearings. However, these are usually held in public and you will be free to attend.
• The Oireachtas Committees hold their hearings in private, but produce a report of their findings.
Complaints to the Standards Commission or the Oireachtas Committees cannot be made anonymously. This means you must include your name and address on any correspondence. Your identity may be disclosed in any subsequent investigations.
General complaint resolving tips
This section on the guide focuses on how to make a complaint to the Ombudsman. Here are some general tips for resolving complaints with public bodies:
- Start at the least formal level . If you think a mistake has been made, try to sort it out with the person or body concerned. The way that any particular public body handles your complaint can vary greatly from one organisation to another. This depends on their attitude to public complaints, the culture of the organisation, and whether it has sufficient resources and systems in place to deal with complaints.
- Keep written records of what you have done: For example, note when you made a phone call and make a note of what was said by you and the body about which you are complaining.
- Make sure you make your complaint within the time limits. There are different time limits for different kinds of complaint. Sometimes the time limits are not absolute but sometimes they are. You should check the website of the relevant body, or inquire, to find out.
- Try to be precise about your complaint. Your complaint is likely to be more effective if you are very clear and precise about the issue. Avoid introducing unrelated issues. For example, if you are complaining about a failure to grant you a medical card, there is no point in complaining generally about the health services.
- Anonymous complaints: In general, you must put your name to a complaint but you may ask the body to which you complain not to release your name. In some cases, this is not possible because it would not allow a proper investigation.
Duty on public bodies to provide assistance and guidance
Public bodies that come under the remit of the Ombudsman have a duty to reasonably assist you in your dealings with them and to deal with you properly and fairly and in a timely manner.
They are also legally required to advise you about any rights of appeal or review you might have, as well as any time limits. You should also be advised about your right to refer your complaint to the Ombudsman.
Taking your complaint to the Ombudsman
When you complain to the Ombudsman you need to be sure to include as much information as possible. You have to make your complaint in writing. It should include:
- details of the public body you have a complaint about
- a brief explanation of the complaint
- your contact details
- whether or not you have already complained to the public body
Sometimes by talking to both sides the issue can be resolved informally . If it cannot be resolved, a full investigation may be needed.
The complaints process
The Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children have details on their websites about how to make a complaint. For both of these bodies, you can complain by filling in an online form on their websites, or printing it out and posting it back to them.
You should give details of the exact issue you are complaining about, what you have already done about it and anything else you think is relevant.
You don’t need to know the exact details of the law or guidelines involved (although it is always a good idea to be as informed as you can be).
How exactly the complaint is dealt with depends on how complex it is. If you complain about a public body, it will be asked for an explanation of what happened. It may also be asked to provide documents and other records.
If your complaint is simple or straightforward, it may be resolved very quickly after contacts between the Ombudsman’s office and the public body. Obviously, if it is complex, it will take longer to resolve.
Tips for taking a complaint to the Ombudsman
If the Ombudsman is taking a fresh look at your complaint, you should remain engaged and involved so that the Ombudman’s office has all the information it needs to handle your complaint. Here are some tips to helping the Ombudsman to help you:
- Do your homework so you can make your own case. You should conduct research and read up on the issue concerned. This might involve reading laws, regulations or guidelines relevant to your complaint.
- Consider whether you could request further information from the public body concerned. For example, you could request your personal records using your rights under Freedom of Information. For more information on this see the Toolkit Guide to FOI.
- Keep copies of all correspondence that you send to the Ombudsman, and when you sent it, and note all phone calls with Ombudsman officials.
- Bear in mind that you can try several channels at once. For example, you might wish to approach a journalist with your problem, or raise the issue with your public representatives.
How the Ombudsman helped a boy with autism get the medication he needs
Elizabeth Kelly turned to the Ombudsman after the Health Service Executive (HSE) turned down her application for help with the cost of medication for her young son John’s mental illness.
After a three year battle, the Wexford woman’s complaint was successful , with the HSE accepting the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. John’s medication bills are now paid for by the HSE, and Elizabeth was reimbursed all the money she had already spent on drugs.
The Ombudsman’s intervention also resulted in the HSE adopting wider changes to ensure all cases likes John’s are treated fairly and in accordance with the rules.
Here, Elizabeth explains how she e nded up making a complaint to the Ombudsman, and how she feels about the outcome:
“My son John needs medication to help with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
In 2009, I applied to the Health Board for a Long Term Illness Card which would allow John to get the drugs he needs free of charge. When I applied for the card he was seven years old and I was paying €94 a month for his medication. I couldn’t afford it to be honest.
My local Health Board refused my application on the grounds that only people suffering from a ‘mental illness’ are eligible for the card. The board said John’s condition was not a mental illness. I asked why and they couldn’t give me an answer.
When I didn’t get anywhere with my original application, I appealed it internally within the Health Board. A refusal came back again and they told me that as far as they were concerned the case was closed.
I felt this was very unfair. I knew from talking to other parents and from online parents’ forums like Rollercoaster.ie that kids in other parts of the country who were on the exact same medication as John were getting the Long Term Illness Card. I just thought in fairness if someone else is getting it, then others should get it too.
Putting knowledge of the Ombudsman system to work
After I got nowhere with the Health Board, I wrote to the Ombudsman. I said I’ve nothing to lose, I’m going to fight this thing.
The Ombudsman’s office requested the files from the HSE and any correspondence I had had with them. I scanned everything I had and emailed it to the Ombudsman’s office in Dublin.
I had kept every letter I sent and the dates when I sent them. The Ombudsman’s office looked at the whole case from both sides and made an independent decision in my favour in 2012.
The decision also helped lead to changes within the whole of the HSE to make sure that the Long Term Illness Card scheme doesn’t discriminate against people depending on where they live.
Things changed for children with ADHD in John’s position because of our complaint. John is now 13 years old and I told him about this. We are both delighted that we played a part in ensuring fairness for all children with the same conditions and consistent approach no matter where they live or what health board they deal with.
Advice for others who feel they have been unfairly treated by public services
I would just say to anybody not to give up. People would say ‘it will take years’ and it did – the whole thing took me three and a half years. But my son will need this medication for the rest of his life.
I am a civil servant and I knew all about the Ombudsman, but it isn’t as well-known as it should be.
People who aren’t in the civil service asked me how I found out about him. They think that it’s a man and that he is just sitting up there in Dublin making decisions, or that he’s part of the government. But I knew it was an independent office.”
*Elizabeth and John Kelly requested that their names be changed to protect their privacy.
For more details, you can read:
- The Ombudsman’s decision in full
- The Ombudsman’s press release welcoming the HSE’s new policy in relation to Long Term Illness Cards
Ombudsman outreach events
The Ombudsman runs regular outreach events which aim to ensure that people who have complained to a public body know about the Ombudsman.
These include monthly visits by Ombudsman staff to Citizens Information Centres in Limerick, Cork and Galway. At these events you can make a complaint and receive information on making complaintshttp.
More information on these outreach events is available on the Ombudsman's website.
Making a protected disclosure
- The non-profit organisation Transparency International Ireland operates a confidential and free service for anyone considering reporting a concern or making a protected disclosure. The Speak Up Helpline operates from 10a.m. to 6p.m Monday to Friday on the Freephone number 1800 844 866.
Other resources that you may find useful:
- A Guide to Whistleblowing and Making a Protected Disclosure. This booklet aims to help workers understand the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. It also shares practical tips on blowing the whistle safely.
- A Speak Up Safely video accompanies guide. It explains some of the key features of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and offers straightforward practical guidance on the first steps you should take before you raise a concern at work.