Best change management initiative

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


A refocus on company culture, a departmental restructure and the recognition that people matter are just three of the winning strategies the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) adopted to drive its success.

Despite facing budget cuts and amid reports that the organisation was in a ‘critical state’, PHSO’s people-led culture change and major restructure has seen the service make a full recovery. 

When the organisation appointed a new ombudsman and chief executive in April 2017 to lead it through a significant change – the success of which was dependent on the buy-in of colleagues – a decision was made to create a people-led strategic vision. 

PHSO identified that the key to the strategy’s success was recognition that people matter, and that to deliver greater efficiency and improved quality of service it needed to place more emphasis on the importance of professionalism. 

In 2017-18, a new in-house learning curriculum was developed by organisational development professionals and volunteers to underpin the new drive to professionalism. Additionally, a major restructure between the Manchester and London offices took place in 2018 to remove barriers to change caused by unnecessary management structures – this saw the relocation of two-thirds of the workforce to Manchester. 

Since the restructure and renewed focus, productivity has improved as unallocated cases (the backlog caused by low productivity) reduced from around 2,000 in 2016 to 250 at the end of 2018, despite a 20 per cent budget cut. 

Employee engagement scores have increased by 28 per cent over two years, taking PHSO above the highest-performing parts of the civil service. 

As a result, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which leads the public scrutiny of the service, declared that the organisation was in recovery in 2019 – three years on from that critical warning. 

The improvements generated by the change programme and the work PHSO colleagues undertake means the public now receive “the service they deserve”. 

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