Supporting information on the Complaint Standards Framework for the NHS

Stage 1 - Early Resolution: key points 

9. NHS organisations should ensure all staff proactively ask for feedback and be trained and equipped to deal with any issues raised at the ‘first point of contact’.  Feedback and complaints should be initially considered by the member of staff who receives that feedback wherever possible to see if they can resolve the matter.

10. NHS organisations should publish clear information about their organisation’s complaints process and how people can get advice and support with their complaint through their local independent NHS Complaints Advocacy service and other specialist advice services.

11. NHS organisations should make sure that everybody who uses their services knows how they can provide feedback or make a complaint by having their complaints policy visible in public areas. NHS organisations should make sure there are multiple channels for somebody to do this easily and in a way that suits them. This includes providing access to online feedback channels.  

12. NHS organisations should make sure, and demonstrate, that the service user’s ongoing or future care and treatment will not be affected because they have provided feedback or made a complaint. 

13. All staff who have contact with patients, service users or those that support them should deal with feedback and complaints in a sensitive and empathetic way – ensuring that people are listened to, get an answer to the issues quickly, and any learning is captured and acted on. Staff should have the freedom to take immediate action that would address and resolve the issues raised and put things right for the person raising those issues.  This could include providing a quick explanation or apology themselves or making sure another member of staff who is more informed on the issues does so. 

14. NHS organisations should provide staff with basic training in alternative dispute resolution techniques to support them in resolving complaints.  Staff should always look to resolve complaints in person or by using the telephone to engage. 

15. As a guide, attempts to quickly resolve a complaint at this early stage should usually take no longer than five working days unless it is very clear taking a bit longer will likely lead to the complaint being resolved. 

16. Not every complaint raised can be resolved quickly. NHS organisations should train their staff to confidently identify types of complaint that are suitable for early resolution and those that require a detailed look into the issues. 

17. Every item of feedback and complaint should be captured and recorded to ensure that NHS organisations build up a detailed picture of how each service they provide is doing and what people experience when they use these services.