Social work complaints procedure
Following publication of the social work model complaints handling procedure (CHP) last month, we are ready to provide support and advice to organisations as they prepare for implementation in April 2017. The CHP – which is available on the Valuing Complaints website at www.valuingcomplaints.org.uk/complaints-procedures/local-authority-model-chp/social-work-complaints – places an emphasis on ensuring that customers have easy access to an efficient, customer-focused complaints service which responds to their concerns quickly and as close to the point of service as possible. It provides information about different complaint scenarios, including those that involve social work and another service or organisation, in addition to providing advice on a range of more complex social work issues, and the handling of complaints about integrated services. Councils are reminded of the transitional arrangements which mean that all social work complaints received by them prior to 1 April 2017 should be taken through the current social work complaints procedure. SPSO’s extended role in handling social work complaints will only apply where the original complaint is made to the local authority on or after 1 April.
The CHP Guide to Implementation provides the information that organisations will need to know when they are adapting and adopting it for their own use. However, the CSA would be keen to hear from any organisation that needs advice or support with this process. You can contact us directly at CSA@spso.gsi.gov.uk.
We are also continuing to prepare for SPSO’s extended role to consider professional judgements in relation to social work complaints from 1 April. We will prepare and deliver a series of awareness-raising sessions for staff in relation to social work itself and also wider issues that social work services may face. We are also continuing with our process to appoint independent professional advisers to ensure that we are best placed for our extended role.
NHS complaints procedure
The new NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP) was published by the Scottish Government in October 2016. NHS boards and their service providers are required to implement the new procedure from 1 April 2017. In particular, boards are asked to ensure that:
- they provide their own organisation’s CHP to the Scottish Government by 7 April 2017, in accordance with the Implementation Guide
- their primary care service providers are ready to implement the procedure, in accordance with the Implementation Guide
- staff are aware of the revised procedure, and in particular of the stronger focus on early resolution, and are empowered to implement it
- the appropriate reporting and monitoring mechanisms are in place.
We continue to work closely with NHS Education for Scotland to update the existing NHS feedback and complaints e-learning modules to reflect the changes in the new procedure. We are also working to develop a programme of education and awareness sessions and will provide further information in future updates.
Complaints handling networks
The local government complaints handlers network last met in November and the next meeting will be in March 2017. The network has introduced a working group to consider options for a more effective approach to reporting the annual complaints performance of all councils to facilitate benchmarking and improvement. The CSA is pleased to be part of this working group, which will meet early in 2017 and report its findings to the next meeting of the full network.
The next complaints handling advisory group meeting will take place on 9 February 2017 at the College Development Network in Stirling. The meeting will consider its approach to planning for this year’s annual complaints event.
The housing complaints handlers network will next meet in February 2017.