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Complaints Standards Authority Update November 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Complaints Standards Authority November Update (PDF, 75KB)

Complaints Standards Authority (CSA)

NHS Complaints Procedure

We have started working with NHS Education for Scotland to update the existing NHS feedback and complaints e-learning modules to reflect the changes in the new procedure. We are also working to develop a programme of education and awareness raising to support organisations to implement the new procedure and will provide further information in future updates.

Social Work Complaints Procedure

We have had our third meetings with both our working group and our steering group in relation to the new social work model complaints handling procedure (CHP). The steering group has now approved the draft model CHP and we are continuing to liaise with the working group to finalise the CHP for publication in December. The new procedure will be made available for organisations to adapt and adopt from 1 April 2017.

How SPSO will handle social work complaints

Our complaints reviewers investigate complaints with the Ombudsman’s delegated authority. They consider matters across all areas of our jurisdiction and, in preparation for our upcoming extended role in relation to social work complaints, we have recently recruited additional complaints reviewers. We are also recruiting for independent professional advisers to ensure that our complaints reviewers have access to appropriate professional advice when considering professional judgement in social work complaints. Read the advert on our website.

Our steering group has been very helpful in assisting with our research and preparations into the expertise required of professional advisers and we will also seek their input into areas for possible staff training.

Importantly, there will be a period of overlap between the current system for social work complaints and SPSO’s extended role. Complaints made to local authorities up to and including 31 March 2017 must complete the existing process that ultimately culminates in a Complaints Review Committee (CRC). This means that local authorities will still need to be able to hold CRCs for some time after 1 April 2017.  Our extended role will only apply where the original complaint is made to the local authority on or after 1 April 2017.

Complaints Handling Networks

Local Government

The local government complaints handlers network met on 3 November. The Improvement Service presented their interim analysis and findings of councils’ annual complaints performance reports for the year 2015-16. A full report will be provided by the Improvement Service once all 32 councils have submitted the appropriate complaints information.

The network was provided with an update in respect of developing the new social work model CHP and SPSO’s preparations for our future extended jurisdiction with these complaints.

A presentation introduced SPSO’s Complaints Improvement Framework. Network members worked in groups to consider how good practice themes within the framework could be applied across councils and shared their findings with fellow members.  Finally, the regular feature of a complaints surgery considered opportunities for improvement and, more generally, how councils could improve learning from complaints and the sharing of best practice.

Further Education

The next complaints handling advisory group meeting will take place on 30 November at the College Development Network in Stirling. The meeting will look at feedback provided by colleges with a view to establishing if all colleges are using the standardised complaints categories, or whether there is still work to do in this respect.


The next meeting of the housing complaints handlers network will be held in January 2017.

The chair of the housing complaints network and the CSA worked together to develop and deliver a joint session on ‘Learning from Complaints’ which was co-presented at the HouseMark Scotland event ‘Customer Service: Being Excellent!’ in November.

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

SPSO Training

SPSO Learning Event

Making the Most of Complaints: Using Learning to Improve Public Services

15 March 2017, Central Hall, Edinburgh.

This event will use a mixture of presentations, hands-on workshops and good practice examples from public authorities that use learning from complaints effectively to make their services better. We will provide tools to help increase the positive benefits of complaints in supporting public authorities to prevent repeat failings and bring about change as a direct result of making the most of the learning.

Read further information about the event and download a booking form.

For general information about our training unit, see our flyer: SPSO Training 2016 (PDF, 40KB).

For more information, please contact

Updated: March 8, 2017