Royal Mail performance being monitored by Ofcom after 'horrendous' postal delays

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on how medical letters are among the vital parcels that have been caught up in the Royal Mail postal delays

Susan Oakey in Eccles was waiting for an important medical letter. It arrived more than three weeks late.

She told ITV News: “It was horrendous - a lot of documents we knew were supposed to be coming didn’t come."

Many households in her area have complained and one local councillor received a Christmas card in mid-January.

Royal Mail says it’s taken on extra staff in the Eccles area, where 20% of staff have been absent at times.

Susan Oakey says: “the post has been delayed - delayed for a long time... it’s more annoying than stressful.” In its latest update, today Royal Mail said that 38 postcode districts are affected by delays. For some people it has meant impacts on businesses or bills going unpaid. Royal Mail blames the issues on high levels of staff absence due to Covid.

It told ITV News that some of its offices have had up to 50% of workers off, either sick or isolating.

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During one week this month, 15,000 postal staff were absent.

At the same time Royal Mail’s workload has vastly increased during the pandemic, as it delivers up to 900,000 Covid test kits a day. Ofcom, which is the official watchdog for Royal Mail told ITV News it is “closely monitoring” performance and that it has told Royal Mail it must improve as the effects of the pandemic subside... or face fines. Meanwhile, Citizens Advice says postal managers should give households more information about how long disruption is likely to affect each postcode.

Ofcom has warned it could launch an investigation if Royal Mail doesn't improve its service to consumers. Credit: PA

Citizens Advice spokesperson Anne Purdoe told ITV News: “Posties are working really hard to deliver our mail on time... but it’s really time for Royal Mail to up their game and if they don’t Ofcom, the regulator, should step in and launch an investigation”. Royal Mail says only a small number of areas have been affected and it’s apologised. There is a compensation scheme for late Mail with claims possible when standard class letters fail to arrive at least six days after posting.

Details are here.