NHS Complaint Standards: Summary of expectations

Complaint Standards at a glance

An effective complaint handling system:

Welcomes complaints in a positive way and recognises them as important insight into how to improve services. It creates a positive experience by making it easy for people to make a complaint.

Staff have the freedom to resolve issues quickly and to the satisfaction of everybody.

Is thorough and fair when looking into complaints and gives an open and honest answer as quickly as possible in light of the complexity of the issues. It makes sure people who make complaints - and staff involved in the issues - have their say and are kept updated when carrying out this work.

It always makes sure people can see what staff are doing to look into the issues in a fair and objective way based on the facts.

Gives fair and accountable responses that cover what happened and whether mistakes occurred or not. Each response recognises the experience of everybody concerned to ensure a culture of learning and accountability.

The system makes sure staff have the confidence and freedom to offer fair remedies to put things right when needed, and to take action to make sure any learning is identified and acted on to improve services.

Promotes a just and learning culture through all the above, and by supporting the entire organisation to see complaints as an opportunity to develop and improve its services and people. It sets clear expectations to embed an open, non-defensive approach to learning from complaints.

The organisation regularly talks to its managers, leaders and the public about what it has learnt from complaints and how it has used learning to improve services for everyone. Staff receive regular support and training to deliver best practice in handling complaints.

Diagram showing the four elements of an effective complaint handling system.