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Complaints Standards Authority Update May 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Social work complaints

The new social work complaints handling procedure (CHP) came into effect from 1 April 2017, requiring all councils to comply with the new CHP from that date.  To confirm that they have adopted and implemented the new CHP in full, each council must provide us with a completed compliance statement and self-assessment form.  Councils should confirm that they have introduced the new procedure across all social work services from 1 April 2017.

In reviewing councils’ submissions, we are assessing their CHP for compliance and providing individual feedback to each council. At the time of writing, we have received the required documentation from 28 of the 32 councils and we are in touch with the remaining few to ensure that they send us their documentation as soon as possible. 

We have also continued to publicise the new CHP with stakeholders.  We attended the recent Social Work Scotland complaints sub-group’s quarterly meeting (this complemented our attendance at their previous meeting in February) and recently visited a council to explain the new requirements, particularly in respect of good governance and the operational delivery of the complaints procedure. 

We are available to provide advice, guidance and support in respect of the new CHP. Councils and Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) should feel free to get in touch with us directly if they would like further clarification on any aspect of the new procedure.

Further information is available on our website.

NHS complaints

The NHS Scotland model CHP also came into effect on 1 April 2017.  This applies to all providers of NHS services in Scotland.  Health boards and primary care providers must ensure that their organisations have implemented the new procedure from 1 April 2017.

Boards have been asked to provide confirmation to the Scottish Government that they have implemented both the model CHP and the public-facing CHP across all services from 1 April 2017.  We are working closely with the Government to assess the submissions from boards to ensure that they are fully compliant with the requirements.  At the time of writing, only one board has still to submit its CHP for a compliance check. 

To publicise the new CHP, we facilitated a workshop on the procedure at the Scottish Practice Management Development Network Annual Conference in Edinburgh earlier this month. We also worked with the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland to deliver a staff awareness session on the new procedure, and on the power of apology.

Integration Joint Boards

Together with the Scottish Government we wrote to all HSCPs earlier this month to clarify a range of issues in relation to complaints handling.  This included the requirement for each Integration Joint Board (IJB) to develop a CHP in relation to their functions.  This must be in place for 3 July 2017, with a completed compliance statement and self-assessment form sent to us by that date.  We are also working with several IJBs as they progress their work in this area, and are happy to provide advice and assistance to other authorities as well.

Further information is available on our website.

Complaints Handling Networks

Local Government

The next meeting of the network will be held in Glasgow on June 23.  It will be dedicated to analysing councils’ complaints data for the year 2016-17. This will be informed by the findings of the benchmarking sub-group which plans to meet before the next network meeting.

Councils agreed to provide their 2016-17 annual complaints data to the sub-group by the second week in May. The success of the June meeting is dependent upon this data being submitted.  Any council that has not yet provided this information should do so without delay to   

The College Sector

The complaints handling advisory group met on 21 March and again on 24 April. On 18 May the sector held its annual complaints event ‘Learning from Complaints’.  The event was delivered in partnership between the College Development Network (CDN), the advisory group and SPSO, and was attended by the new Ombudsman, Rosemary Agnew.

The event program focused on supporting the sector to deal with and learn from complaints to deliver improvements in service.  The representative from the City of Glasgow College delivered a benchmarking presentation which compared and contrasted the annual complaints performance for all colleges, and by analysing the newly introduced categories of complaints, highlighted the specific areas of service and administration that complaints result from.  Attendees received a demonstration of the complaints handling tool funded by the CDN and developed by New College Lanarkshire, and were updated on options to make this product more widely accessible to organisations.  The journey of a complaint through the SPSO process from receipt to decision was covered, as was SPSO’s approach to Quality Assuring our complaints handling performance.  SPSO’s new Quality Assurance Tool was also evaluated by delegates with a view to determining the extent to which it could be adapted for use by the college sector.  Delegates’ feedback on the event was extremely positive.  

The University Sector

Having attended the university sector’s most recent complaints network meeting in April, we were delighted to be invited to attend the next meeting of the network, which will be held on 25 August.

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

Updated: May 24, 2017