In view of the Government of Malawi's continued efforts towards an improved service delivery in the health sector and the mandate conferred upon the Ombudsman by the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and Ombudsman Act, Office of the Ombudsman and the Ministry of Health and Population collaborated to establish a social accountability forum, the hospital Ombudsman Platform. This forum aims at ensuring the provision of quality services in all health facilities in line with existing democratic principles.

The Hospital Ombudsman Platform was established to ensure the enactment of the following social accountability outputs:

  • to provide a civic awareness platform for hospital users and other relevant stakeholders on their health related rights;
  • to receiving and investigate alleged complaints in health service delivery; and
  • to provide feedback to relevant authorities i.e. Ministry of Health, District Councils highlighting areas requiring intervention and improvement.

A Hospital Ombudsman (HO) is an individual who is empowered to investigate, mediate and provide remedies to complaints lodged by service users, their representatives and other stakeholders in relation to a hospital's service.

He/She is an employee of the Ministry of Health and is assigned appropriate duties and responsibilities for this position.

The Hospital Ombudsman performs these duties and responsibilities between 10:00 to 12:00 noon and 2:00 to 4:00 pm, from Monday to Friday. Every health facility is expected to provide a Hospital Ombudsman contact phone number for patients. The Hospital Ombudsman is reachable at any time.

  • Receiving complaints from clients on the quality of services they have received in hospitals. This includes, but is not limited to, delays, rudeness, incorrect advice, and failure to adequately respond to emergencies.
  • Assessing complaints by either:
    • Investigating the complaint in accordance with the complaint handling procedure (pg.14); or
    • Promptly referring to the OoO, regulatory bodies, or other appropriate offices when the matter is beyond the scope of the HO; or
    • Dismissing the complaint with the service user and closing the file if it lacks merit.
    • Providing information on the outcome of the complaint to the service user and the Facility in charges.
    • Recording, documenting and tracking complaints in accordance with the established case management and filing system (pg.16).
    • Providing quarterly reports to OoO, QMD and DHSS.
    • Informing the public on the citizen's health service charter.
    • Administering client exit interviews.
    • Facilitating mediation team meetings whenever necessary.
  • Breach of Confidentiality
  • Discrimination
  • Disrespecting Individual's Dignity
  • Delay
  • Neglect of Duty
  • Negligence or Carelessness
  • Incompetence
  • Turpitude
  • Actions Taken without Proper Authority and Unlawful Delegation
  • Lack of Courtesy
  • Deprivation of an Opportunity to Object or to Appeal Against a Decision
  • Failure to Ensure Availability of Essential Resources (Drugs, Equipment, and Staff)
  • A matter that is or has been the subject of legal proceedings before a court or a tribunal.
  • A matter relating to the recruitment, appointment, or contract of a service provider; for instance, when a hospital employee has been hired without being interviewed.
  • Contractual or commercial transactions; for instance a contract between the health facility and food suppliers.
  • Medical actions that, in the opinion of the Hospital Ombudsman, were solely related to a diagnosis or treatment of an illness. The actions taken must be in consequence of the exercise of clinical judgement. For instance, when a biopsy reveals an ailment that requires further treatment in another facility.

The appropriate remedies facilitated by the Hospital Ombudsman may include:

  • Making an apology, explanation, and acknowledgement of responsibility;
  • Taking action that specifically corrects the wrong that was brought to attention;
  • Recommending the revision of procedures and processes to prevent the same thing happening again;
  • Recommending training for staff on quality health care and proper practice;
  • Conducting community awareness on the Service Charter.