About the Complaint Standards Framework

Why we need a Framework

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.

This is particularly the case for the NHS, services that we rely on every day and at critical times of need. So, it is important that:

  • NHS staff have the skills and experience they need to be confident in handling complaints well
  • 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
  • staff being complained about are supported and involved throughout the process.

Currently, it can be difficult for NHS staff to achieve these aims because:

  • there is no single set of guidelines for managing NHS complaints
  • NHS staff cannot always get the right training and support to handle and resolve concerns
  • NHS managers and leaders approach learning from complaints in different ways.

This can lead to a culture where complaints are feared or ignored, rather than embraced as a valuable source of learning. As a result, NHS staff can feel unsupported in what is a critical and complex area of work. 

The Complaint Standards Framework is the first step to addressing these issues.

Staff have told us that they would be best supported by a clear and consistent set of expectations to follow, rather than references to ‘good practice’. This also gives people making a complaint some certainty and provides clarity for those being complained about because it clearly sets out what they can expect to see throughout.