You are here

Complaints Standards Authority Update September 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Social work

Over the past few months we have worked closely with social work services to ensure that all authorities are fully compliant with the changes in social work complaints procedures introduced in April this year. In addition to checking the organisation’s complaints handling procedure (CHP) we have worked to ensure that public-facing materials, including online information, is accurate and up to date. We have reviewed all required CHPs and found them to be compliant with the requirements of the model CHP. We have advised four organisations that some minor, additional work is required to ensure that all public-facing material is fully compliant and we expect this to be rectified over the next few weeks.

Integrated health and social care

All Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) have been asked to provide us with a complaints handling procedure which complies with the model CHP and the principles approved by parliament in January 2011. To simplify this process we developed a template CHP for IJBs, based on the Model CHP for Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and Associated Public Authorities in Scotland. We are currently in the process of assessing each IJB CHP against the requirements of the model.

If any IJBs have queries about what is required for the adoption of either the social work or IJB complaints handling procedures, they should contact


The new NHS Scotland model CHP came into effect on 1 April 2017 and applies to all providers of NHS services in Scotland. We have been working closely with the Scottish Government and NHS boards to assess organisational CHPs to ensure that they are fully compliant with the requirements of the model CHP.

We have assessed all board CHPs. While we have gained assurance that, procedurally, boards have processes in place to comply with the new CHP, for some boards we have identified the need for some minor amendments to ensure full compliance. These relate either to the procedure or to the public-facing materials provided by the board.

Complaints Handling Networks

The Local Government Sector

The local government complaints handlers’ network met earlier this month. The network was attended by Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, who took the opportunity to address delegates and to make herself available to them throughout the day. The network also welcomed guests from The Scottish Government, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency and The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The network enjoyed an excellent presentation from the benchmarking sub-group. This included confirmation that across Scotland the vast majority of complaints (88%) are closed at stage 1 of the CHP. The benchmarking data also presented opportunities for organisations to learn from each other, particularly in relation to a consistent approach to handling complaints at stage 1 or stage 2 of the CHP. The network agreed to review the current indicators, and to explore the potential for new key complaints indicators focusing on learning and improvement as a result of complaints.

The attendee from Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who is planning to introduce a similar type of network in England/Wales, asked members about their experience of the network, what works well and how, if possible, the network could be improved. A helpful complaints surgery shared knowledge around how best to help vulnerable customers or those who may need some additional support to fully engage with the complaints procedure. Finally, the network considered its priorities for the next 12-18 months. Issues discussed included training, standardised complaints satisfaction surveys, sharing best practice through case studies and the issue of ‘partially’ upheld complaints.

The next network meeting will be held in Glasgow on Friday 24 November 2017.

The College Sector

The complaints handling advisory group met in September 2017. The group reflected on the excellent feedback from this year’s earlier complaints event, and considered whether, and to what extent, a cross-sector network event would add value for complaints handlers. Other discussions included an update from the College Development Network (CDN) on the sector’s complaints handling tool. In particular, the group heard that the tool had been well reviewed by representatives from the local government sector who had recently visited New College Lanarkshire for a demonstration of the tool in practice. The CDN explained the plans to have the tool made available on an open source platform. Costs to those organisations who choose to use the tool would be minimal (for ongoing development) and would, of course, reduce commensurately as more organisations supported the product.

Finally, our Valuing Complaints website provides a centre for best practice in complaints handling. It contains information to help support improvement in public sector complaints handling including model CHPs for public services in Scotland and good practice tools and training resources. The CSA is available to provide advice, guidance and support in respect of all aspects of good complaints handling. You can contact the CSA team here:

Updated: September 20, 2017