Complaints Procedures

Public Sector Complaints Handling Procedures (CHPs)

The Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) has been working closely with a range of partners and stakeholders to develop Model Complaints Handling Procedures (CHPs) for each public service sector.

We published CHPs for the local authority and housing sectors in March and April 2012.  In December 2012 we published CHPs for the further and higher education sectors and in March 2013 we published the CHP for the Scottish Government and Associated Public Authorities in Scotland. Most recently, we worked with the Scottish Government to deliver the NHS Model CHP, which was published in October 2016, and we published the Social Work Model CHP in December 2016, ready for implementation on 1 April 2017.   You can find copies of these procedures and associated documents in this section.

They have also been developed within the framework of the SPSO Statement of Complaint Handling Principles, approved by the Scottish Parliament, and Guidance on a Model Complaints Handling Procedure.

The emphasis in the CHPs is on quicker and simpler complaints handling with local, early resolution by empowered and well trained staff. Our aim is to help bodies ‘get it right first time’ with a focus on resolving complaints at the frontline wherever possible.  There is also an emphasis on valuing complaints – recording all complaints, reporting key information and using the lessons learned to improve service delivery.

The aim of standardising and streamlining CHPs has been at the core of this work, so all model CHPs are closely aligned. The key elements of each model CHP will be the same for all sectors, including:

  • A shared definition of what is and what is not a complaint
  • A two stage process where complaints are resolved as close to the frontline as possible
  • Frontline resolution of complaints within five working days
  • An investigation stage of 20 working days, which provides the organisation’s final decision
  • Recording of all complaints
  • Active learning from complaints through reporting and publicising complaints information.

There is, however, enough flexibility in the model CHPs to reflect the requirements of each sector and of each organisation.