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About the Complaint Standards Framework

The Complaint Standards Framework sets out a single vision for handling complaints about NHS services.    

The Framework sets out a single set of standards for staff to follow when they handle complaints. It also sets out how organisations can best capture and act on the learning from complaints.  

This version of the Framework is for:

  • All NHS staff, including all clinical and non-clinical staff and senior leaders, to:
    • provide  a clear vision of how to approach feedback and complaints effectively
    • set out how they should approach learning from complaints to improve services.  
  • Everyone who provides feedback or makes a complaint about the NHS, and the people who support, advise or advocate for them. It sets out what they can expect to see and experience when doing so.
  • NHS staff who are being complained about. It will make sure they are supported and that the complaint is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a finger-pointing exercise.

The Framework does not cover or replace how health and social care regulators carry out their work (for example, a fitness to practice investigation or regulatory inspection). Nor does it cover how serious patient safety issues or legal claims should be taken forward. The Framework helps staff identify when issues should be directed to a regulator, or where another route is more appropriate.

Overall, the Framework sets out how NHS organisations can promote fairness, justice and learning when handling feedback and complaints, and take responsibility to be accountable when things go wrong.

The Framework focuses on supporting and developing staff to get the most out of learning from feedback and complaints through practical support and skills training. It also recognises the huge complexity and emotional impact that can come with making a complaint, as well as having a complaint being made about you.