Making complaints count

In 2020 we published Making Complaints Count, a report on the state of local complaint handling across the NHS and UK Government departments.

We interviewed complaint handlers working in the NHS and UK Government departments and reviewed over 300 complaints we had investigated about complaint handling. The research showed: 

  • there is no consistent guidance or training for staff who handle complaints
  • public bodies often view complaints negatively, and not as an important learning opportunity that can be used to improve services 
  • the current complaints system is not meeting the needs of the public. 

Complaint Standards

To resolve these issues, we developed a single set of NHS Complaint Standards in partnership with the NHS, healthcare regulators, members of the public and advocacy groups.

The NHS Complaint Standards provide a consistent and comprehensive guide to handling complaints. They support frontline NHS staff who handle complaints and encourage senior leaders to promote a positive culture that welcomes and learns from feedback. 

The NHS Complaint Standards are based on My Expectations, which set out what patients, their families and carers expect to see when making a complaint about health or social care services.

We have now published the NHS Complaint Standards alongside a model complaints handling procedure and supporting guidance. This will help NHS organisations meet these expectations. 

We’re currently testing the Complaint Standards with pilot organisations before introducing them across the NHS in 2022. We’re also working with Government departments and other public organisations to develop a set of Complaint Standards for Government complaint handling.