Mid Wales

Public services ombudsman for Wales 'needs greater power'

Rafael Ribo, the European President of the International Ombudsman Institute Image copyright Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
Image caption Mr Ribo made his comments ahead of a seminar at Aberystwyth University

Wales could be "left behind" by other parts of Europe if its public service ombudsman is not given more powers, the role's European head has claimed.

Rafael Ribo, European president of the International Ombudsman Institute, said it would strengthen Wales' ability to deal with complaints.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Nick Bennett agreed, saying it would "drive up standards".

A draft Ombudsman bill was consulted on by the fourth Welsh Assembly.

The draft bill, which included giving the ombudsman own initiative powers and the ability to accept verbal complaints, could still be considered by the new assembly.

Certain services do not currently fall within the Public Services Ombudsman's remit, such as private hospitals.

Mr Ribo called for the assembly to pass new ombudsman legislation, ahead of a seminar at Aberystwyth University on Friday.

"Current ombudsman legislation in Wales is still highly regarded, but in my view the time has come to provide new powers to ensure Wales doesn't get left behind," he said.

"Scrutiny of public services is a crucial driver for improvement and own initiative powers, used effectively, have proved a powerful tool for ombudsmen across Europe."

Image copyright Public Services Ombudsman for Wales,
Image caption Nick Bennett was appointed the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in 2014

Mr Bennett said it was "time to really push on" with a new bill.

"It would help improve justice for the individual as well as drive up standards of public service delivery," he added.

If the draft bill was taken forward, it would be the first of its kind for the assembly in its 17-year history.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Once the draft bill is revisited by the finance committee, we look forward to discussing it further."

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