Rob Behrens has been appointed as the new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
The ombudsman makes the final decisions on complaints about government departments and public bodies which are not resolved by NHS England. In 2014-2015, the PHSO handled 29,000 complaints and investigated over 5,000 cases.
Behrens will replace Dame Julie Mellor who resigned last July when an inquiry found that her deputy Mick Martin “assisted” in covering-up a case of sexual harassment at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS.
Mellor said that Behrens has “considerable experience of complaint handling from his time as independent adjudicator for higher education in England and Wales”. She added: “He will be a great advocate for an independent service that makes impartial final decisions on complaints about UK public services and the NHS in England.”
Behrens previously worked as the independent adjudicator for higher education in England and Wales and is currently a senior adviser to the European Network for Ombudsmen in Higher Education.
Behrens’ appointment comes at a time when Parliament is considering creating one Public Services Ombudsman by merging the PHSO with the Local Government Ombudsman.
Chair of the Health Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said: “We felt that Mr Behrens’s professional background and skills will allow him to bring a deep understanding of the role of Ombudsman to the challenges he will face as the PHSO. We wish him every success as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.”
Cheryl Gillan MP, who chaired the pre-appointment hearing, said: “Rob Behrens has both the professional competences and personal independence necessary to fulfil this role. His in depth knowledge and understanding of the role of the ombudsman and the experience he has acquired at the office of the independent adjudicator in higher education will stand him in good stead in this new position.”