You said, we did: How we’re responding to feedback on the Complaint Standards

Complaint Standards Framework Blog Image
Assistant Director of Strategy and Partnerships

On 30 March, we will publish the new Complaint Standards for the NHS. The Standards will provide a consistent and comprehensive guide to handling complaints.

They are the result of extensive research and consultation with the NHS and other public service organisations, members of the public and advocacy groups.

Today we’re publishing the results of our public consultation on the Complaint Standards.

Why we need the Complaint Standards

A clear and consistent approach to learning from complaints is essential for every organisation. Good complaint handling provides a direct and positive connection between those who provide services and the people who use them. It offers a rich source of learning to help improve services for everyone.

Particularly for our vital NHS services, it is important that:

  • organisations promote a just and learning culture, in which complaints are welcomed and handled well
  • staff have the skills and experience they need to be confident in handling complaints
  • people using NHS services know how to give feedback or make a complaint, can get support when they need it, and are confident their concerns are taken seriously and addressed
  • people making complaints about NHS services get a consistent, positive experience each time
  • staff being complained about are supported and involved throughout the process.

Responding to feedback

Last year we carried out a public consultation on the Complaint Standards. We wanted to get better understanding of what people would like to experience when making or dealing with complaints. We found that:

  • 91% of respondents support what the Standards seek to achieve
  • 70% felt it was clear what organisations are expected to do
  • 69% of NHS staff said there were no factors that would prevent their organisation from embedding the Standards 
  • 88% said PHSO should regularly report on how organisations are performing to meet the Standards’ expectations
  • 76% agreed or strongly agreed that PHSO should be given legislative powers to set and enforce national Complaint Standards for the organisations we investigate.

The consultation prompted a great response, and we have worked hard to learn from these when putting together the Standards. We have developed detailed guidance modules for complaints handlers and revised the Standards to make them simpler.

We will continue to work with partners, pilot organisations and members of the public to make sure we keep listening and acting on feedback.

You said, we did

Our report has a more detailed breakdown of how we responded to feedback from the consultation, but here are just some of the things we’ve done:

  • created draft guidance modules to support staff with different areas of complaint handling
  • designed senior level materials on promoting a just and learning culture
  • provided a more detailed breakdown of aims and objectives for the Standards
  • made sure the Standards comply with existing NHS regulations
  • provided more detailed timescales for complaint handling
  • emphasised the link between complaints and patient safety.

Next steps

Building on the consultation responses and publishing the Complaint Standards are important first steps, but there is more to do. We’re also developing draft guidance and a Model complaints handling process.

Later this year, we’ll launch a pilot scheme with a number of organisations across different NHS services. Through the pilot, we’ll test and further develop the Standards and find out how they will impact the NHS when rolled out more broadly in 2022.

We’ve had lots of interest from organisations wanting to take part in the pilot. We can’t offer a place to everyone, but the Standards and draft guidance modules will be available on our website for everyone to see from the end of March. We welcome your feedback.

Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for latest updates.

Download Report on Complaint Standards consultation [PDF 1024 KB]

Download Easy Read Report on Complaint Standards consultation  [PDF 4 MB]