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Complaints Standards Authority Update April 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Complaints Standards Authority (CSA)

Social work complaints

The model complaints handling procedure (CHP) for social work was introduced on 1 April 2017.  From that date, each local authority was required to ensure that their procedure fully complied with the model CHP.  Our Guide to Implementation required all councils to undertake a self-assessment of compliance and submit this together with confirmation that they had adopted the model CHP across all social work services from 1 April.  

At the time of writing, 21 councils had met this requirement and we are now reviewing the assessments and the respective CHPs in detail.  We will be providing feedback to each authority over the coming weeks.  We would ask the councils that have still to submit their documentation to do so as a matter of urgency. 

Some health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) have chosen to have their own social work CHP, alongside the local authority’s procedure.   It is for each authority and HSCP to determine whether they take this approach; our key concern is to ensure that all social work services are covered by an appropriate procedure.   

NHS complaints

The NHS Scotland model CHP also came into effect on 1 April 2017.  This applies to all providers of NHS services in Scotland.  From that date, boards and primary care providers were required to ensure that their organisations had implemented the new procedure.

Boards have been asked to provide confirmation to the Scottish Government that they are operating the model CHP and the public-facing CHP across all services.  At the time of writing 14 boards had met this requirement.  We are working closely with the government to assess the submissions to ensure that they are fully compliant.  We would urge those boards that have still to submit their documentation to do so as a matter of urgency. 

Complaints Handling Networks

Local Government

Items discussed at the April meeting included annual performance reporting, the introduction of the social work CHP and priorities for the network over the next 12 months.  We were particularly encouraged by the findings of the Annual Complaints Performance Sub-Group and the subsequent agreement of network members to a revised process of reporting which will see the network family group members receiving annual benchmarking data by the second week of May.  This will allow the June meeting of the network to be solely dedicated to benchmarking.

The network welcomed guests from the Scottish Prison Service and the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.  Both reported positively on the meeting and said they would share the learning with their own organisations.  Network members also reflected that the external visitors had made a valuable contribution to the meeting.

The College Sector

The complaints handling advisory group met in April.  Plans for the ‘Learning from Complaints’ annual event, to be held on 18 May 2017, are well under way.  The event is likely to include an overview of sector complaints received in the previous year, lessons learned, quality assuring complaints handling, developing complaints categories, the journey of a complaint through the SPSO and decision-making.

We would encourage any college sector staff who handle complaints, manage the complaints procedure, have responsibility and/or accountability for complaints performance or have an interest in quality or performance reporting to attend the event.  Full details will be publicised by the College Development Network in the coming days. 

The University Sector

We were pleased to attend the university sector’s April complaints network meeting. We provided an update on SPSO’s recent activities and an overview of the university sector complaints we received during 2016-17.  We explained the types of information we would request from a university when considering a complaint, and we outlined the journey of a complaint through SPSO from receipt to closure.

We responded to several questions about the SPSO process and listened carefully to the experience of those university representatives who have had dealings with SPSO over the last year, and undertook to share this feedback with our colleagues.  We will continue to liaise closely with the chair of the network, and we look forward to attending future meetings of the network.

For all previous updates, and for more information about the networks and the CSA, visit our dedicated website or email

Updated: May 4, 2017