ALLIANCE Assembly member and Party Health Spokesman Kieran McCarthy has expressed his concern at the number of complaints received by the Northern Ireland Ombudsman in his latest annual report.
The Ombudsman’s office ensures that every citizen in Northern Ireland is served by a fair and efficient public administration that is committed to accountability, openness, and quality of service.
Alderman McCarthy said he was disappointed that there had been an increase in the number of complaints in 2003/4, adding that he was not surprised that the Planning Service had made a major contribution to the Department of the Environment receiving the most complaints.
Ald McCarthy stated: “It comes as no surprise to discover that planning issues top the list for many people’s complaints. When refusals are issued without explanation, the lack of transparency leads to frustration, approvals and refusals often seem arbitrary, and there is deep suspicion about the whole process.
“The public deserves a better, more accountable planning process, with a proper appeals system, instead of the biased one we have at present which favours developers.”
Ald McCarthy added that it was alarming that the third highest number of complaints against the Department of Social Development had come from the Ards area.
In addition, Ald McCarthy said he had been saddened by the trend for patients to be removed from GP’s lists without warning.
“People are angry and shocked that they are being struck off their doctor’s patient list without being informed. The Department of Health must address this issue, as it can lead to a breakdown in trust between the GP and patients who have, as they see it, been removed arbitrarily,” he said.
NOTE: The Ombudsman’s report is here http://www.ni-ombudsman.org.uk/pubslist.htm