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Complaints Standards Authority Update October 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


We have worked closely with the Scottish Government group on further developing the methodology for a revised NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP).  We have continued to engage with stakeholders to update on the progress of this work, having met with the NHS Chief Operating Officers and the NHS Complaints Personnel Association Scotland since our last update.  We also plan to meet with Patient Advisers through the Patient Advice and Support Service in early November.

The Scottish Government have now communicated the schedule of the next NHS CHP working group meetings which will take the working group to February 2016.  In discussion with the government, we are also proposing further sub-groups to take forward more detailed work on the model CHP, recording and reporting, and education and training.  This will be discussed and agreed with NHS partners at the next meeting.

Integration of Health and Social Care

Related to the work on an NHS CHP, we continue to have positive discussions with the government on the work required to progress changes in respect of arrangements for health and social care complaints.

We provided evidence to a second session of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee on health and social care complaints, following the first session in June.  The Scottish Government outlined its plans for progressing changes in this area.  For more information, the transcript of the committee evidence is available.

The proposed changes include legislative changes around SPSO’s role in social work complaints, in line with the recommendations of a Scottish Government working group from 2013.  The government have launched a consultation seeking views on a draft order to amend the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002. This would allow the SPSO to investigate complaints in relation to the substance of social work decisions. The draft order also amends the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 in relation to the sharing of information between the Care Inspectorate and the SPSO. Additionally, it amends the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 to abolish the existing system of local authority social work complaints (including Complaints Review Committees) and allow a model CHP prepared by the SPSO to be introduced.  The consultation runs until 14 December and is available on the government’s website.

In addition, given that changes to the NHS and the social work procedures will take time to implement, the Scottish Government has committed to developing  guidance for Integration Joint Boards as they progress with implementing their complaints arrangements. This will help ensure a standard approach across Scotland that is in line with the proposed changes and moves to adopt the model CHP in these areas.

Local Government

The local authority complaints handlers network will meet on 30 October in Glasgow.  The main theme of the day will be ‘learning from complaints’.  The network will also consider the output of the SPSO Conference held earlier this month.

The network will also consider the emerging findings from the Improvement Service’s analysis of councils’ annual complaints performance reports for 2014/15, in line with SPSO indicators, and consider benchmarking of this information.

Further Education

The further education complaints handling advisory group are currently working to consider the development of standardised complaints categories.  The output of this work will be shared at the annual event planned for later this year, which will also consider the annual complaints performance for colleges for 2014/15.  This will enable benchmarking of performance across the sector and facilitate the sharing of learning from complaints in terms of wider good practice initiatives performed by colleges.


The next meeting of the housing complaints handlers network will be held in November. Dates and venue will be communicated by the network in due course.  Further information on the role of the network, including details of how you may join, can be obtained from

Training Events

SPSO Conference
Our thanks to all those who presented, facilitated, scribed and attended the recent Conference and made it such a successful event.  We have posted speaker presentations and workshop materials on our Valuing Complaints website.  The workshop information includes the toolkits that were demonstrated on the day and some further reading.

The speakers and subjects were:

  • Dr Nikki Maran, NHS Lothian, Human factors
  • Douglas Clydesdale, financial services, Learning from complaints
  • Mark McEwen, General Manager, Scottish Water, Learning from customers

The workshop themes were:

  • Human factors/Learning from complaints
  • Quality assuring your complaints process
  • Quality assuring your responses

Booking now:

Complaint investigation skills (stage 2 of the model CHP): 1-day open course
Next course (spaces available): Wednesday 11 November, central Edinburgh

This is open to staff from all sectors under the SPSO’s jurisdiction.

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 2015 (PDF, 40KB)

Updated: March 8, 2017