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Complaints Standards Authority Update: April 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Download the CSA Update April 2015 (PDF, 47KB)

Following the successful programme of ‘Patient Experience, Feedback and Early Resolution’ events which we jointly hosted with NHS Education for Scotland,  we are preparing the next steps in planning for bringing forward changes to the NHS complaints handling arrangements. This will take into account the need to progress legislative change and will involve NHS boards and key agencies throughout the development phase.  Our aim remains to work with NHS boards and other stakeholders to develop a model complaints handling procedure (CHP) for the NHS that is more focused on early resolution and takes account of the framework of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 and the ‘Can I help you? guidance for handling and learning from feedback, comments, concerns or complaints’.

Local government
The chair of the local authority complaints handlers network updated the March meeting of the SPSO/local government sounding board on the progress of the network over the past six months.  In doing so she highlighted the analysis of the 2013/14 complaints performance data, which is now helping members to benchmark and learn from each other.  She also noted the network’s successes in relation to networking, learning from complaints and sharing best practice across the sector.

The next meeting of the local authority complaints handlers network will be held on 12 June 2015 when members will consider the further development of the Local Government Key Performance Indicators for 2014/15 complaints information, particularly in relation to learning from complaints.

SPSO representatives are due to meet with the Accounts Commission, the Improvement Service, COSLA, SOLACE, the Scottish Government and Audit Scotland in May to explore ways in which analysis of the local government annual complaints reports at a national level can be improved. This will also give us the opportunity to share with these key stakeholders the progress that has already been made by the network group in analysing the annual complaints reports.

We are also taking forward work with the Improvement Service on the development of masterclass sessions for elected members and a briefing note on good complaints handling / governance.  We will provide further updates on our progress in the following months.

The housing complaints handlers network met on 27 March in Glasgow, hosted by Queens Cross Housing Association.  We were encouraged by the numbers of housing staff who attended from registered social landlords and councils, the level of debate and the commitments shown to improving how we manage and learn from complaints.

A key theme for the network was the performance in managing complaints and how best to make progress towards developing a performance culture across the sector.  Attendees also took the opportunity to feed back on their experiences of handling complaints through the model CHP.  It was widely agreed that the model CHP had been good for the sector and for customers, with feedback that recording and reporting against SHR indicators was taking place but reporting against SPSO indicators was not being consistently applied by all.  The network benefitted from sharing their experiences of good practices through a complaints surgery, helping to address some issues that members had encountered.

It was agreed by members that it would be appropriate for the network to meet quarterly, with the next meeting provisionally scheduled for early July.  It was noted that this timing would allow for the collation of complaints performance information from the first quarter of 2015/16 which could be analysed for the next meeting to illustrate the value of benchmarking.  If you would like to attend future meetings of the network, please in the first instance drop us an email at and we will pass your details to the lead housing officers for the network.

Further education
The further education complaints advisory group will host a benchmarking workshop for all colleges on 6 May.  The group has asked all colleges to present their annual complaints performance data for 2013/14 in a standardised format, within a reporting spreadsheet provided by the group.  This will allow for a consistent and meaningful analysis of complaints handling performance across the sector and produce, for the first time, a baseline against which we can benchmark for improvement.   This information is key to the success of the benchmarking workshop, and we would encourage any colleges that have not yet provided their complaints performance information in this format, to please do so without further delay.  If you haven’t signed up for the event please contact Dawn Brooks of the College Development Network at

Higher education
The next meeting of the higher education complaints forum takes place on 23 April at the Paisley Campus of the University of the West of Scotland.

As a reminder, we ask that higher education institutions that have not already done so to please provide us with their annual complaints report, or a link to their online published annual complaints report, by contacting us at

SPSO Training Opportunities

Complaint investigation skills (stage 2 of the model CHP): 1 day open course
Wednesday 27 May 2015, central Edinburgh

Our next open training course for staff handling second-stage complaints (Investigation Skills) is on Wednesday 27 May 2015 in central Edinburgh. This is open to staff from all sectors under the SPSO’s jurisdiction. Full course details are available on the SPSO Training Unit website.

For more information and to book spaces please contact

For more SPSO course information, please visit the SPSO Training Unit website.

Managing Difficult Behaviour: 1 day open course
Monday 22 June 2015, central Edinburgh

This course, new for 2015, is open to staff who might receive negative feedback from the public or other stakeholders. Participants will be given an opportunity to assess their own conflict styles and develop ways of managing their own personal ‘triggers’. We will consider a number of different theories and tools that can be helpful in managing conflict. The session will include a number of opportunities to put theory into practice and participants will be able to discuss their own particular concerns. Full course details are available on the SPSO Training Unit website.

Price: £180 pp – to apply for the course, please email
Save the date: SPSO Conference, Thursday 8 October 2015
With a range of keynote speakers, interactive workshops and cross-sector networking opportunities, our one-day conference will focus on helping you implement improvements to your complaints handling, quality assure your complaints responses, and maximise learning from complaints using root cause analysis.

Location: COSLA conference centre, Edinburgh (near Haymarket train station)
Price: delegate rate £150 pp, including refreshments and conference materials

Spaces will be limited, but to register your early interest or for more information, please contact

Updated: March 8, 2017