Official figures show that 95 number of complaints were made to the Ombudsman last year from residents of Co. Meath who feel they have been unfairly treated by public bodies. Another 28 complaints to the Ombudsman were made with regard to Meath County Council.
The Ombudsman examines complaints against public bodies, including local authorities, public hospitals and publicly funded third level colleges and universities.
“A lot of people aren’t aware that they can complain to the Ombudsman if they feel they have been unfairly treated by a public body,” said Sarah Vanden Broeck from the Social Democrats Meath East.
“But complaints are vital and they can make all the difference if you are having problems with getting a service or a benefit you are entitled to. Also, when a public body listens and learns from one person’s complaint, it can take steps to make sure the same mistake don’t happen again to someone else.”
The Ombudsman examines complaints of ‘maladministration’ by public bodies. Maladministration is the opposite of good administration. This means being treated unfairly by a public body. It could include things like being refused a service you are entitled to. Maladministration can be something that a public body has done, but also something that it hasn’t done.
Among other things, you can complain to the Ombudsman if a public body:
- Refuses to provide you with a service or a benefit which you are entitled to – 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.
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. The Ombudsman can make recommendations to public bodies. While he cannot force a public body to do anything, these recommendations are usually accepted.
The 2016 report can be consulted here.