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Complaints Standards Authority Update February 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Read the CSA Update February 2016 (PDF, 144KB)


Development of the revised NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP) continues to progress to plan. The most recent meeting of the project steering group in January 2016 considered the progress of three working groups, each looking at a specific area of the project.  Over the next few weeks we will be working with NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and other key stakeholders to deliver NHS complaints workshops where we will provide further updates on our work to date, together with a description of the revised model CHP and how it will work in practice.  Our intention remains for the NHS model CHP to be published during 2016 with implementation by NHS Scotland being introduced from April 2017.

Integration of health and social care

The Scottish Government are currently working to develop guidance on complaints for Health and Social Care Partnerships to help ensure an integrated approach to handling complaints and annual performance reporting. This will largely follow the SPSO model CHP, although including reference to the existing statutory social work and NHS complaints arrangements. The Government aim is for this guidance to be published in spring 2016.

The Government have also recommended changes to social work complaints procedures to help align and integrate processes. Parliament is currently taking evidence on the Public Services Reform (Social Work Complaints Procedure) (Scotland) Order 2016. The Draft order contains provisions for:

  • extending the remit of the SPSO to enable us to consider complaints made about social work which are not solely about maladministration, but also enable us to consider the professional judgment of social work staff.
  • repealing the existing power for Scottish Ministers to require local authorities to create a social work complaints procedure. The Scottish Government have indicated that one effect of this repeal is that the SPSO will be able to use its existing functions to create a model complaints handling procedure (CHP) for social work complaints, and that local authorities will be obliged to adopt a procedure which complies with that model. The Government want to bring SPSO functions in relation to social work into line for those for health, where the SPSO sets out the model CHP which it expects local authorities to follow.
  • allowing the sharing of information between SPSO, Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Service Council where relevant to their regulatory functions.

Local government

The local government complaints handlers network met most recently in January.   Guests included Audit Scotland, who spoke about the important role complaints play in continuously improving services.  Other issues covered by the network included learning from complaints where volunteers shared their learning through a case study approach and a peer review of councils’ annual complaints reports to consider benchmarking outputs, share good practice and generate ideas for improvement.

We encourage all local authority complaints handling colleagues to join this network, either by attending the meeting or participating via the well-established knowledge forum.

Further education

The Further Education Complaints Handling Advisory Group met in early February at College Development Network Stirling.  Issues considered by the group included signposting to accreditation bodies and the group’s progress in developing standardised categories of complaints for the sector.

The group’s annual complaints event will be held on 22 April 2016. The work on standardised categories will be presented to the sector at the event.  Also covered will be the annual complaints handling performance for all colleges for 2014/15, and in the year to date.  Other sessions will include the approach to assessing customer satisfaction with the complaints procedure, and how to quality assure complaints handling performance by using the SPSO Complaints Performance Assessment Tool, with feedback from a college to explain the approach.


The next meeting of the Housing Complaints Handlers Network will be held on 26 February in Edinburgh. The network will consider the complaints handling performance of members in quarters 2 and 3 of the business year.  It will also look to learn from the Further Education Advisory Group’s approach to standardising complaints categories, and has invited a guest speaker from the Further Education group to share the learning from their work.  The ever popular complaints surgery will present another opportunity for members to identify and share best practice in handling complaints.

Further information on the role of the network, including details of how you may join, can be obtained from

For all previous updates, and for more information about CHPs, visit our dedicated website

Training Events

Upcoming courses (all based in central Edinburgh)

Complaint investigation skills (stage 2 of the model CHP): 1-day open course

Thursday 23 June

Tuesday 29 November

Managing Difficult Behaviour: Wednesday 28 September

These are open to staff from all sectors under the SPSO’s jurisdiction. Full course details are available on the SPSO Training Unit page.

For more information and to book spaces, please contact

We have more information about courses that we can offer to organisations in our flyer: SPSO Training 2016 (PDF, 40KB)

Updated: March 8, 2017