Making Complaints Count: Supporting complaints handling in the NHS and UK Government Departments

15 July 2020

This report follows an invitation from the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs to explore the state of local complaints handling across the NHS and UK Government departments.

It draws upon significant evidence taken from interviews carried out with a wide range of individuals and organisations who have first-hand experience of how the NHS and UK Government departments approach complaints. It also incorporates a review of a wide range of other research reports and over 300 of our own investigation reports documenting complainant experience.

The report highlights three areas that need to change:

  • There is no consistent way in which staff are expected to handle and resolve complaints.
  • Staff do not get consistent access to training to support them in their complex role - complaint handling should be recognised as a professional skill.
  • Public bodies too often see complaints negatively, not as a learning opportunity that can be used to improve their service.


Download Making Complaints Count: Supporting complaints handling in the NHS and UK Government Departments [PDF 632KB]

Read the Executive summary.


A new framework to improve NHS complaint handling

Our research strongly suggests that the current complaints system is not meeting the needs of the public. To resolve this issue, we have worked in partnership to design a draft Complaint Standards Framework for NHS staff.

This new Framework will provide a consistent approach and support to frontline staff, as well as assisting senior leaders to promote a positive culture embracing learning from complaints. It provides the basis for a central training platform for staff to give them the support and development they need, and to recognise that handling and resolving complaints is a professional skill. 

Find out more about the Framework.