Complaint Standards Framework: Summary of core expectations

Giving fair and accountable decisions

An effective complaint system makes sure organisations enable staff to give a fair and balanced account of what happened and what conclusions they reached on every complaint. 

When appropriate, organisations openly identify times when things have gone wrong or services have had an unfair impact and take accountability for these.

Organisations ensure staff can offer a range of ways to put things right for the individual.  Staff also look at what action will be taken to learn from the experience to continuously improve services and help support staff.

  • Staff give a clear, balanced account of what happened based on established facts.  Each account compares what happened with what should have happened, and gives clear references to any relevant standards, policies or guidance, based on objective criteria. 
  • Staff give everybody involved in a complaint meaningful opportunities to respond to initial views andtake these into account in the final decision. 
  • Organisations ensure staff have the confidence to be open and honest when things have gone wrong or where improvements can be made.  Staff ensure the right balance between taking accountability and identifying what learning can be taken from a complaint and how the learning will be acted on to improve services and support staff.    
  • Wherever possible, staff explain why things went wrong and identify suitable ways to put things right for people when mistakes have occurred.  Staff should ensure the apologies and explanations they give are meaningful, sincere, and openly reflect what impact the mistake has had.  Staff take human factors into account, and ensure any learning is acted upon. Staff use any learning to support staff complained about.
  • Organisations empower staff to identify suitable ways to put things right for those raising complaints. Organisations provide guidance and resources to make sure any proposed action to put things right is consistent with others. 
  • For complaints that involve multiple organisations, the lead organisation provides a single response to the complaint that includes what the other organisations have done to look into the issues and the conclusions they reached.  Where needed, the response clearly explains how each organisation will remedy any mistakes it made.
  • Organisations make sure people are kept involved and updated on how the organisation is taking forward all learning or improvements relevant to their complaint.
  • Staff make sure everyone is told about their right to complain to the Ombudsman in the written final response to a complaint.