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February 12, 2014


It is not usual for the Ombudsman to make public statements other than in relation to his Annual Report. 
The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent entity financed by the People of Gibraltar and as such we owe a duty of care to all those who come to seek our assistance irrespective of colour, creed or political persuasion. 
This office operates to the highest of Ombudsman levels and our independence has never been questioned in Gibraltar or outside our shores. The Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman is a full voting member of the Ombudsman Association (formerly the British and Irish Ombudsman Association) and the International Ombudsman Institute. Voting Member status can only be achieved if an Ombudsman Scheme meets the highest standards of independence and service. This is subject to periodical exhaustive scrutiny.
The Ombudsman has considered appropriate to issue a statement in order to correct some misconceptions and errors relating to appointments to the composition of the Gibraltar Health Authority’s Review Panel (Panel).
By way of information, the Ombudsman states as follows:
1. The Panels operate as per the provisions of the Gibraltar Health Authority (Complaints Review Panel) Act 2004 (the Act).
2. The Public Services Ombudsman Act does not play any role in this matter.
3. The Act provides for a defined administrative role of the Ombudsman.
4. The Ombudsman’s role is limited to ensuring that a complaint meets the requirements of the Act, decides on allowing additional time for the investigation of a complaint, and other such administrative duties. 
5. The Ombudsman is not the Chairman of the Panel and does not (nor any member of his staff) form part of it.
6. Upon receipt of a valid complaint, the Ombudsman chooses three Panel members from the Gazetted list to form the Review Panel for that particular complaint.
7. No one can interfere with the work of the Panel. To date, no attempts of interference have been recorded.
8. The work of the Panel is regulated by the Act.
9. The Panel have the highest degree of authority to investigate a complaint. This high degree of authority also imposes on the Panel a very high degree of accountability and the expectation that the investigation will be thorough and produce an impartial result of their findings.
10. If the complaint deals with a clinical matter then the Panel is entitled to the services of a clinical assessor. Pursuant to the Gibraltar Ombudsman having entered a service level agreement and memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, clinical assessors are chosen from the same panel of assessors as used in the United Kingdom. Thus independence is always assured.
11. Without any doubt whatsoever, the Panels have always produced sound reports on their investigations which have provided the complainant with an unbiased account of events and the Panels opinion and recommendations (if any). These investigations also serve to assist the Gibraltar Health Authority in the monitoring and improvement of their service.

Mario M Hook
11 February 2014