Setting our sights on a new standard for complaints

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Assistant Director of Strategy and Partnerships

Our work to develop a Complaints Standards Framework in partnership with stakeholders from across the NHS has gathered pace since my last blog. Here's an update of what we've been up to.

Feedback on the Framework

We’ve been holding further workshops to get more feedback on the Framework. Advocacy organisations and indemnity providers joined us to give their impressions of the first draft of the Framework, and made helpful suggestions to enhance it.

We will gather the thoughts and opinions of NHS complaint managers and other stakeholders in the very near future.

Everyone who has given us their feedback and shared their expertise has been very enthusiastic. We’ve used their observations to shape a revised draft of the Framework, and have begun sharing these for comment at advocacy and advice roundtables.

We’re also promoting the Framework at events we attend and have noticed lots of interest from different sectors.

Views from the frontline

We will be running more workshops and attending more events to make sure we get as many views as possible. Of particular importance is hearing from patients and service users, as well as NHS staff.

We’ve been talking to a number of our Working Group partners to see how we can use their existing networks. We’re delighted that NHS England are helping us to set up a workshop with GPs and dentists in December.  

Meeting needs and expectations

We’re developing easy read versions of the Framework to share with charities that support people with learning difficulties to get their views. It is really important we produce a Framework that is accessible to as many patients as possible.

By making sure we record the needs of patients and NHS staff in the Framework, we will build on our My Expectations report. This document is a user-led vision of what people expect to see, feel and hear when making a complaint.  

The new Framework will expand on My Expectations to include how organisations look at:

  • what happens when people raise concerns without making a complaint
  • how to support staff who have been complained about
  • how to learn and improve from complaints.    

The Complaint Standard Framework’s main purpose is to make sure that NHS staff have a clear vision. We will support them to meet the aims of My Expectations.

The Scottish perspective

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Rob Behrens, interviewed Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) for our latest Radio Ombudsman podcast.

They talked about the SPSO’s Complaints Standards Authority and model complaints handling process. In Scotland, all complaints about public bodies are handled under the same set of standards.

Rosemary pointed out that these standards have a strong emphasis on learning from complaints. This helps organisations deliver the right service the first time.

We’ve found similar themes in the feedback we’ve had on our own Complaints Standards Framework.

You can listen to the podcast below:

What next for the Complaints Standards Framework?

Next spring, we plan to hold a public consultation on the final version of the Framework.

By this time, patients and service users will have seen and commented on the document. They will add their valuable expertise by experience to the version of the Framework that the public will see.

We’ll take into account the Scottish Ombudsman’s valuable insight as we further develop the Framework. Organisations and users will be able to easily understand and use the Framework and it will promote learning from complaints.

More information

To find out more, read my other blogs about our work to develop a Complaints Standards Framework:

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at

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Read more about good complaint handling.