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Complaints Standards Authority Update March 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Download the March 2016 CSA Update (PDF, 139KB)

Complaints Standards Authority (CSA)


We are continuing to make progress in developing a revised NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP). A draft procedure and public information has been developed and will be presented to the steering group in April. Specifications in respect of the recording and reporting requirements of the procedure have been identified and the working group responsible for this area of work will update the steering group at the April meeting. In partnership with NHS Education for Scotland, we have participated in a programme of workshops to raise awareness of the new procedure across Scotland, including a strong focus on the importance of early resolution.

We intend the model CHP to be published during 2016, with implementation by NHS Scotland being introduced from April 2017.

Social work complaints

The Parliament recently approved the Public Services Reform (Social Work Complaints Procedure) (Scotland) Order 2016. It will abolish the existing social work complaints process. It also contains provisions to allow the SPSO to consider the professional judgement of social work staff and allow the sharing of information between the SPSO, Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council when appropriate.

The abolition of the current system means that the SPSO will be able to use its existing complaints standards role to develop a process for social work complaints that will align with the current modern procedures in use across the Scottish public sector. The order comes into force on 1 April 2017 and we will be working closely with the Scottish Government, local authorities (including social work professionals), third sector, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders both in developing the new process and preparing for our new role.

Health and social care integration

The Scottish Government have committed to help ensure a standard approach to complaints in this area across Scotland. Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) are now under the SPSO’s remit.

The named person and child’s plan

The Parliament also recently passed the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Part 4 and Part 5 Complaints) Order 2016. This order will give the SPSO the ability to consider the merits of decisions when dealing with complaints made under parts 4 and 5 which deal with the named person and child’s plan. The order will come into force on 31 August 2016. There will be more detail on our new role and our approach to this in future commentaries.

Local Government

The local government complaints handlers network continues to meet and share good practice regularly. At the most recent network meeting in March items discussed included service requests and the need for further clarity on differentiating these from complaints; supporting staff through the CHP and a ‘complaints surgery’ that provided members the opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. SPSO sought feedback on the introduction of a reflective learning form for bodies under our jurisdiction in relation to complaints received about them by SPSO, and outlined plans for progressing changes to social work complaints and how this will be managed at a local level.

Further Education

The advisory group’s annual complaints event will be held in April, where the work on standardised categories will be presented along with 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 your complaints handling performance by using the SPSO complaints performance assessment tool.

The advisory group provides a forum to identify and share good practice, and look at ways in which learning from complaints can be used to improve the services that colleges deliver. The meeting will also consider hosting an event in April or May to give colleges the opportunity to benchmark their complaints performance.


The housing complaints handlers network met in February. A presentation was provided, detailing members’ complaints handling performance in quarters 2 and 3 of 2015/2016. This allowed members to consider their own performance in relation to other similar organisations, and to look at opportunities to learn and improve.

A representative of the Further Education complaints advisory group attended the housing network to talk about the FE sector’s approach to standardising complaints categories. Based on the experience in education, the housing complaints network will now consider the best way to take forward a similar piece of work for housing complaints. Finally, the complaints surgery presented an opportunity for members to identify and share best practice in handling complaints.

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 website.

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