Statement on Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB)

March 14, 2023

Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull are extremely concerned to hear reports that the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has been excluded from contributing evidence to the reviews into University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB).

If the PHSO has been rebuffed from giving evidence, patients and the public need an immediate explanation as to why and by whom. 

In relation to the imminent Bewick Review specifically, there needs to be clarity around whether Professor Bewick was informed by the NHS about the statutory warning that the PHSO issued last August. If Professor Bewick was not informed when he was commissioned in December, we urgently need to know why.

Neither NHS England nor any other body which received the PHSO report last year said anything to Healthwatch at the time. The first we knew about it was when the PHSO went public last month. That begs the question of what anybody has done in response to the PHSO’s concerns until now. Has the PHSO report just been gathering dust on a desk somewhere?

Whatever the truth of the matter, it is obvious that evidence from the PHSO must be considered before all three commissioned reviews present their final reports.

These events further underline why UHB must emphasise its commitment to action, accountability and renewal. The days where reviews disappear into the ether must end.

Healthwatch has insisted from the outset that all investigations into UHB must pass the tests of independence, transparency and thoroughness. We will be strictly judging the Bewick review of patient safety against those yardsticks when it is published – which we strongly hope will be within the next week or so at the latest.

– Richard Burden, Chair, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull

* Image by Angella Streluk, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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