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Complaints Standards Authority Update: March 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CSA Update March 2015 (PDF, 44KB)

NHS model complaints handling procedure

We have previously reported on changes to the NHS complaints handling arrangements, with the Scottish Government committing to align the current NHS complaints arrangements with those in place in other sectors. The Complaints Standards Authority will work with boards and other stakeholders to develop a model complaints handling procedure (CHP) for the NHS, which is in line with the framework of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 and takes account of the ‘Can I help you? guidance for handling and learning from feedback, comments, concerns or complaints.

The revised procedure will encourage more early local resolution of NHS complaints wherever this is possible. In line with other model CHPs in operation across the public sector in Scotland, there will be two stages to the revised procedure – a distinct, five working day stage for early, local resolution of complaints, ahead of a 20 working day investigation stage. These changes are intended to support NHS providers to improve outcomes for people using their services, by helping them to resolve more complaints quickly at the early stages, and improve performance in meeting the subsequent 20-day target.

We are currently engaging with the sector with a view to developing the NHS model CHP over 2015/16. Working together with NHS Education for Scotland, we are currently working through a program of ‘Master Class’ events for NHS Middle Managers as part of our engagement with complaints practitioners within the NHS sector. Events have been held in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with further events scheduled for Aberdeen and Inverness.

Local Government

The local authority complaints handlers network met most recently in March. Members considered a presentation on ‘Actively Managing Complaints’ as well as further analysis of the 2013/14 annual complaints reports, and held a complaints surgery, a standing item at each network meeting. They also considered the key performance indicators and options for continuing to improve the way complaints performance information and learning is analysed and benchmarked across the sector.


The housing complaints handlers network will meet in Glasgow at the end of March, and will reflect on how the CHP has worked in practice and how registered social landlords can continue to improve their performance reporting and develop a performance and learning culture. The network will also hold a complaints surgery to facilitate sharing of learning and common issues and challenges and allow members to share good practice in complaints handling.

The network is run by the sector for the sector, and aims to identify, evaluate and share good practice in complaints handling. It also seeks to compare and contrast complaints handling performance with a view to benchmarking and sharing the learning from complaints handling.

If you would like to attend future meetings of the housing complaints handlers network, please, in the first instance drop us an email to confirm to We will pass your details to the lead housing officers for the network. 

Further education

The further education complaints advisory group will host a workshop in May for benchmarking complaints performance in the sector. They will provide further details by early April. The advisory group has agreed that, to allow for a meaningful baseline of annual complaints data, colleges will be asked to provide their data in a consistent format in advance of the workshop. Again, further details will be provided by early April.

Higher education

The next meeting of the higher education complaints forum will take place on 23 April 2015 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 published annual complaints report online, by contacting us at

SPSO Training Events

Managing Difficult Behaviour: 1 day open course

Wednesday 15 April 2015, in 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

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 see our new flyer on the trainin available from SPSO in 2015: SPSO Training 2015 (PDF, 40KB)

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