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Complaints Standards Authority Update – January 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Model CHP for the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and associated public authorities in Scotland

The model complaints handling procedure (CHP) for all organisations in this sector was published on 28 March 2013 and they are required to have implemented it by 31 March 2014.

Engagement with organisations in this sector have been positive and we are aware from our contacts with a range of bodies that most are on target to achieve implementation by the deadline. Where organisations would benefit from support, advice or guidance in implementing the CHP, including on the range of training that we can provide, we would encourage them to contact our CSA team at CSA@spso.org.uk.

Local authority complaints handling network – reporting and publishing complaints information

The model CHP requires public bodies to publish, on a quarterly basis, information on outcomes, trends and actions taken. This is a requirement which is over and above the requirement to internally report on complaints information and the aim is to help ensure awareness and transparency of the range of issues raised and considered through the complaints process and the fact that organisations have responded positively to any service failures identified. There should be a strong focus on how the organisation has responded to learning.

To assess compliance with this requirement we recently asked a sample of local authorities to confirm the arrangements they had in place for the quarterly publication of outcomes, trends and actions taken. We are grateful to the 15 councils that provided us with information. We are still assessing the returns against this but have identified some good examples of communicating complaints information and have found that all councils responding had measures in place for internal management reporting. Several councils had experienced difficulties in publishing the information required by the model CHP for various reasons but are taking positive steps to address this. The outputs of our review, including learning on what works well and areas for improvement, will be discussed at the local authority complaints handlers network at its next meeting on 28 March.

We are now in the final quarter of the reporting year and are aware that councils are turning their attention to the requirement to publish their complaints handling performance against the SPSO performance indicators, which were developed in partnership with the local authority complaints handlers network. At the next network meeting we will be considering progress in this regard and discussing how information should be presented and reported. We will also be discussing the approach to developing the network further as a benchmarking forum for the performance indicators.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the work of the network, please contact the CSA team directly at CSA@spso.org.uk.

Housing

We reported our assessment of the sample of registered social landlord (RSL) compliance in last month’s newsletter and are continuing to assess the information provided. The sample is on reporting and publishing complaints information.

We note that the Scottish Housing Regulator’s deadline for submitting the first Annual Return on the Charter (ARC) is approaching (May 2014) and that the SHR recently published revised technical guidance providing full information on the data social landlords should provide in their ARC. This includes information on the indicators related to complaints. A summary of progress against the Charter can be found here.

We would also remind RSLs of the SPSO’s high level indicators for monitoring complaints handling performance under the SPSO’s model complaints handling procedure (CHP). These indicators provide the basis for self-assessment and benchmarking activities and should provide the basis of public reporting to tenants in line with the model CHP. The indicators can be accessed here.

Further education

Working closely with Colleges Scotland and sector representatives, we have received expressions of interest to form the new complaints handling network for the sector. We hope that, depending on availability, the first meeting of this group will take place in March. Learning from the success of the local authority complaints handlers network, we expect this group to enable complaints practitioners to share information and best practice in complaints handling and to shape future complaints handling arrangements on behalf of the sector, including in terms of reporting, publishing and benchmarking information.

If you are interested in joining a network group, please contact the CSA team directly at CSA@spso.org.uk.

NHS

We are entering the final phase of our programme of training and education about feedback and complaints, which we developed and delivered with NHS Education Scotland (NES). Following the launch of the e-learning modules for frontline NHS staff, our training unit has developed an e-learning module on investigating complaints for NHS complaints officers and managers which is currently being piloted and will be launched shortly. We have also recently delivered direct delivery training to over 200 GP and dentist practice managers which will help provide significant reach in improving complaints handling skills across primary care.

Updated: March 8, 2017