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New NHS complaints handling procedure from 1 April 2017

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland are jointly committed to developing a culture of openness and transparency in NHS Scotland that values all forms of feedback, including complaints, and uses it to continuously improve services.

The new NHS Scotland Model Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) and public-facing procedure are designed as templates for NHS bodies and primary care service providers to adapt and adopt. There is also an Implementation Guide, which sets out in detail how Boards and their primary care service providers should prepare for implementation.

These documents (available to download below) have been provided by the Scottish Government to provide time for Boards and their service providers to adapt them for use by their own organisations, and to prepare to implement the new procedure from 1 April 2017.

Boards and their service providers should continue to handle complaints in line with the Patient Rights (Complaints Procedure and Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and the Patient Rights (Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints) (Scotland) Directions 2012 until the new procedure is introduced.

The background to these changes is available to read on our NHS CHP background page.

Chief Executives must ensure that their organisations and primary care service providers are ready to implement the revised procedure from 1 April 2017. In particular, they are asked to ensure that:

  • NHS Boards provide their own organisations’ complaints handling procedure to the Scottish Government by 7 April 2017, in accordance with the implementation guide attached. The Scottish Government will work with the Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) to assess the returns from NHS Boards, and to provide support to those Boards that may require it.
  • NHS Boards assure themselves that 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.
  • Appropriate reporting and monitoring mechanisms are in place.

Integration Joint Boards

Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) are listed under the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002, and as such are expected to have a complaints handling procedure which complies with the Principles approved by parliament in January 2011.  We have developed a template for IJBs (based on the Model CHP for Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and Associated Public Authorities in Scotland) which should simplify this process for IJBs.

The CSA would be happy to respond to any queries about these requirements.

Updated: August 23, 2018