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Revised NHS Complaints Procedure

by Lynne Campbell | Posted in Complaints management solutions | 3 March 2015

The Scottish Government is proposing changes to the NHS procedure for handling complaints. Key NHS stakeholders in Scotland were notified of this in writing on the 28th January 2015 (see SPSO News dated 18th February 2015).

The Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) will work with NHS boards to develop a revised NHS model complaints handling procedure (CHP).  Existing NHS ‘Can I Help You? Guidance on complaints handling and the model CHPs developed and implemented by other public bodies in Scotland* will be the starting point. Changes and amendments to regulations and directions contained in the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 will be required.

The key purpose of the change is to promote better early, local, resolution of complaints wherever appropriate. Dealing with complaints as close to the first point of contact as possible is known to minimise the "handling" cost of complaints and to have more chance of restoring customer satisfaction. See our blog “Complaints Managers Save and Shine ” on how complaint costs can escalate.

The proposal is to introduce a distinct five-working-day stage for early resolution, ahead of the 20-working-day investigation stage. This will replace the existing requirement to attempt resolution within the first three working days of the 20 working day period. This will help NHS bodies to resolve more complaints quickly at the early stages, thereby improving outcomes for patients and carers, and will improve performance in meeting the subsequent 20-day target.

*The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is leading the way in promoting better public sector complaints handling in Scotland. The SPSO set up the Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) in 2010 to work with public sector bodies in Scotland to standardise complaints handling procedures. Model Compliant Handling Procedures are now in place for Local Authorities, Registered Social Landlords, Further and Higher Education and Scottish Government and Associated Public Authorities. For more information see their website:

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