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Complaints Standards Authority Update February 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Download the Complaints Standards Authority February 2017 update (PDF, 138KB)

Social work complaints procedure

The social work model complaints handling procedure (CHP) was published in December 2016. Both the CHP and the accompanying Guide to Implementation, which details what organisations will need to know as they prepare to adapt and adopt the CHP ready for implementation in April 2017, are available on the Valuing Complaints website.

Read about the social work model CHP.

SPSO’s extended role in deciding social work complaints

We have appointed two independent professional advisers to help with our upcoming extended role in social work complaints, where we will be able to consider the professional judgement of social workers where complaints are made to organisations after 1 April 2017. Importantly, councils will continue to hold Complaints Review Committees (CRCs) for some time after 1 April 2017. This is because complaints made to them up to and including 31 March 2017 must be considered in line with the existing process which ultimately culminates in a CRC. As such, our short-term focus will be for the professional advisers to hold SPSO staff awareness sessions outlining key aspects of social work and related issues, in addition to contributing to our existing internal knowledge bank.

We are continuing with our stakeholder engagement and we recently published articles in SSSC News (the Scottish social service sector’s online magazine) and About Advocacy (the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance’s magazine). We also presented to the Scottish Government’s Older People’s Development Group and Social Work Scotland’s Complaints sub-group. We are keen to continue this engagement work in the coming months and are happy to provide support to organisations as they prepare to implement the new CHP in April. We can be contacted directly at 

Complaints handling networks

Local Government

The local government complaints handlers network will next meet in March. There will be an opportunity at that time to consider the early findings of the short life benchmarking workgroup which had its first meeting in January 2017. The purpose of this group is to consider how the network’s approach to benchmarking for improvement may be further developed to deliver added value. The benchmarking workgroup will prepare proposals for the network to consider the annual performance of councils through an agreed process. This will include consideration of the specific data to be submitted to the network/Improvement Service, the date by which the data should be submitted and in what format.

Further Education Complaints Handling Advisory Group

The Complaints Handling Advisory Group met in February 2017. Having previously agreed on and introduced standardised complaints categories, the sector is now exploring the potential to standardise the category of complainant. Plans for the Advisory Group’s annual complaints event to be held in May 2017 are progressing well. As in previous years, the event will include an update on the sector’s performance in handling complaints. It will also look at areas of good practice, and learning from complaints. Further details will be provided by the College Development Network in due course.

NHS Model CHP – supporting implementation

We are working closely with NHS Education for Scotland and other partner organisations to support a programme of ‘Feedback and Complaints and Duty of Candour’ training and awareness events, including participation at four regional roadshows during March 2017. Specifically, we will deliver a workshop based on the requirements of the new NHS and social work model CHPs. This will be an interactive session and will involve working in groups for further discussion around the key requirements of the new procedures, including:

  • the definition of a complaint
  • recognising feedback, comments and concerns
  • details of the two-stage process
  • good governance arrangements.

We continue to provide a bespoke support service to specific NHS organisations, and will represent SPSO at the forthcoming Patient Advice and Support Service regional events to be held in Dundee and Glasgow, where we will present on the revised NHS CHP which will be introduced on 1 April 2017.

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

Updated: March 8, 2017