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Complaints Standards Authority Update September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Download the CSA Update September 2015 (PDF, 36KB)

Local government 

The next Local Authority Complaints Handlers network meeting will be held at the end of October in Glasgow.  The network will feed back on the SPSO conference being held earlier in the month, specifically in relation to the themes of learning from complaints, quality assuring the complaints process and responses to complaints, and the self-assessment performance improvement framework.  The meeting will also include a dedicated session on learning from complaints, with a view to producing guidelines to assist local authorities in implementing improvements identified from handling complaints.

We are aware that the majority of councils have now provided the Improvement Service with their 2014/15 annual complaints performance data for each of the SPSO indicators in a standardised way.  The Improvement Service is currently in the process of analysing this data and will provide the  headline findings at the October network meeting.  This will enable members  benchmark their performance against one another and to identify areas of good practice which can be shared across the sector.

Progress has been made in terms of the development of a revised NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP), in line with one of the recommendations of the Scottish Health Council’s Listening and Learning report.  The Scottish Government’s recently formed working group of NHS representatives met earlier in September to take forward the development.  At this initial meeting the group considered what it is trying to achieve and the appropriate methodology to achieve this.  In particular, the group discussed how best to engage with all stakeholders in the process, for example, independent contractors and service users, to ensure that the model CHP for the NHS meets everyone’s requirements.  The group also discussed the timescales for development, publication, testing and implementation of the model CHP.

It is expected that the working group will meet four times over the development phase of the model CHP.  Dates of meetings will be communicated to working group members in due course.

Further Education
The Further Education Complaints Handling Advisory Group met most recently in September.  Progress is being made in relation to developing standardised categories for complaints across the sector.  Preliminary work has been completed by The City of Glasgow College to identify the various complaints categories currently being used across the sector.  The Advisory Group agreed that the findings of this work should be used by a short-life working group to identify options for the introduction of standardised categories across the sector.

The Advisory Group also considered how best to measure customer satisfaction with the complaints procedure.  North East Scotland College has developed a questionnaire which asks complainants about their satisfaction with the service they received with regard to the complaints procedure, rather than the circumstances or outcome of their actual complaint.  The Advisory Group agreed that this went a long way towards measuring satisfaction with the complaints handling service received, and will look at how they may incorporate a similar approach to measuring customer satisfaction.

Plans are in progress to organise a sector event for late November or early December to look at the annual complaints performance for colleges in 2014/15, and to consider wider good practice initiatives.  Further updates will be issued by the Advisory Group when the date is finalised.

We would encourage any colleges that wish to join the Further Education Complaints Advisory Group to contact us at, and we will pass your details on to the Chair of the Group.

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

We are delighted with the strong response to the first ever SPSO Conference on ‘getting things right’.  The conference and the waiting list are both full.  We will put information including speaker presentations and workshop materials on our Valuing Complaints website after the 8 October event.  There is a summary of the Conference themes below, and please contact if you have any questions.

Complaints processes generally concentrate on ‘putting it right’ for the consumer.  Using the intelligence that can be derived from complaints, how can we ensure we ‘get it right’ next time for everyone else?  How do we ensure that our complaints processes and responses are fit for purpose and allow us to identify where there is learning and meet the needs of the consumer?

Keynote speakers from the SPSO and public and private sector organisations will talk about their real-world challenges in changing organisational culture, embedding potential learning and improving future practice.  A series of workshops and ample networking opportunities will enable delegates to meet with colleagues across the public sector and beyond.

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

This is 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 2015 (PDF, 40KB)SPSO Training Flyer

Updated: March 8, 2017