Dame Julie Mellor, the Health Service Ombudsman (who took up the role in January 2012) has announced that she has commissioned an external review to look at the way her department handles cases that involve potentially avoidable deaths.

This category of cases are most likely to allow the NHS to learn lessons from their actions for the future, as well as those that will have important and critical outcomes for the families involved.  

Under the current system, families must pursue an initial complaint with the NHS trust involved before a case is accepted by the Health Service Ombudsman. It will be interesting to see the breadth of the review that is intended and if the results of this will assist Dame Julie Mellor in ensuring that her department will be “as effective as we possibly can in putting right individual wrongs and sharing information in the future”.  

Once the findings of the review are reported, we will comment on this in a later edition of Health Legal Update.