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Complaints Standards Authority Update March 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stakeholder engagement

We have now presented at three of the Duty of Candour and Feedback and Complaints events coordinated by NHS Education for Scotland. The fourth and final event will be held in Glasgow this week. During these events we have presented to audiences from a range of sectors e.g. health boards, primary care providers, nurseries, integrated health and social care partnerships and charities. Our workshop focussed on the adverse impact of negative complaints experiences on staff, organisations and people making complaints, and considered what policies and processes can assist with challenging complaint scenarios.

In late February we met with a health and social care partnership (HSCP) to discuss the integration of complaints handling across HSCPs, their local arrangements and reporting against complaints performance indicators. We also met with representatives from the Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss the trends and themes we have seen coming from complaints brought to us about water providers.

In early March we presented at the two Patient Advice and Support Service & NHS Complaints Personnel Association Scotland annual events in Dundee and Glasgow. We gave an update from the SPSO, including health stats for the last full year and year to date, and we also provided advice to the group on submitting complaints to the SPSO and details of the journey of a complaint through the SPSO process from receipt to decision.

At the NHS Complaints Personnel Association Scotland network meeting in Edinburgh we provided input on complaint handling queries arising from the previous meeting in September, as well as an update from the SPSO, including year-to-date health statistics. The group also heard updates from the Scottish Government, the General Medical Council, the Patient Advice and Support Service and the Scottish Mediation Network.

We welcomed a visitor from the Bermuda Ombudsman and provided an overview of our office and our processes, as well as details on how we publish cases and the resources we have developed for complaint handlers.

The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer

We are making good progress with our work on developing National Whistleblowing Standards for the NHS.  The Whistleblowing Standards Working Group has representatives from the NHS, the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders.  The group have been working hard to develop Principles and Procedures which are clear, provide staff with guidance and support, and encourage reporting of concerns as early as possible.  We are now preparing the draft Standards for presentation to the Whistleblowing Standards Steering Group later in March. 

Alongside this work we are preparing for the new Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) function to be delivered by the SPSO.  We are working closely with the Scottish Government in this work, to ensure our preparations are in line with the proposed legislation.

The Scottish Government plan to consult on the draft legislation to improve whistleblowing services in May and June.  The SPSO will be consulting on the draft National Whistleblowing Standards at the same time.  Watch this space for more information.


Colleges – this group will meet on 16 April 2018 in Stirling.

Universities – this group will meet on 25 April 2018 in Edinburgh.

Local Authority – the group met on Friday 23 February in Edinburgh.

The group heard an update from the SPSO that covered general news, year-to-date statistics, including social work and health social care partnership complaints, and recurring complaint handling issues identified in cases that come to the SPSO. The group also took part in an interactive session around the themes considered in SPSO’s second thematic report, Making Complaints Work for Everyone.

The benchmarking sub-group provided details of the upcoming data collection deadlines, including those for the submission of quarterly data. The group continued discussions around the standardisation of surveys measuring customer satisfaction with the complaints process, and heard a case study about how a complaint that was escalated to the SPSO was handled at local level and the journey of the complaint from when it was received at the SPSO to decision stage.

Housing – this group will meet on 26 April 2018 in Glasgow.

Updated: March 20, 2018