Good leadership and complaints

Feedback and complaints provide an opportunity to identify learning and improve the care or service you and your team provide.

Listening and acting on patient feedback and good complaint handling can have a positive impact on your reputation. It shows you listen and care about what service users say and act on it.  

Here are four things you can do as a leader to help create a team culture that values and learns from complaints.

1. Create a culture of learn not blame

It’s important to create an environment that supports people to speak up when they see something wrong.

You can do this by:

  • making sure everyone in your team feels involved and is confident to speak up
  • making sure feedback and complaints are a part of every team meeting - ask yourselves: ‘How are we doing?’
  • find as many ways as you can to actively seek feedback as a team 
  • empower staff to act on feedback
  • deal with complaints as a team and support the people involved.

2. Avoid a concern becoming a complaint

The best, most-cost effective approach is to avoid issues and concerns becoming complaints in the first place.

You can do this by:

  • working to identify concerns as they arise and dealing with them promptly 
  • proactively seeking feedback so people don’t have to come to you 
  • making sure you are listening and learning - if your service doesn’t improve you will keep getting complaints.

3. Make complaints count

One of the main reasons given for not complaining is the belief that it will not make a difference. You need to show that is not the case.

You can do this by:

  • helping your team understand that the complainant ‘owns’ the complaint and that it is important to them
  • publicly sharing examples of how your team has listened and learned - for example through ‘you said we did’ and ‘patient stories’ posters
  • making sure staff carefully monitor all forms of feedback to identify any themes or trends
  • taking action that works for your service and your service users. 

4. See the bigger picture

It’s important to look more widely when dealing with individual concerns and complaints. If you don’t, you may miss out on identifying wider concerns, issues or themes. 

Learning should be shared across the organisation.

Remember it is an ongoing process.

Helpful resources