On Board: a guide for members of statutory boards

Guidance for all those appointed under statute to be members of the boards of public bodies in Scotland.

Complaints Handling

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the independent body that provides the final stage for complaints from members of the public about devolved public services in Scotland.

As a Board member, you have a responsibility to ensure that complaints are considered as part of your organisation's overall governance and assurance arrangements.

You should be aware of the importance of having an effective complaints policy in place. You can also help to promote a culture which values complaints and has a proactive approach to effective resolution, monitoring and learning from complaints.

The Board has a collective responsibility and Board members, the Chair and the Chief Executive are also individually responsible for ensuring the public body has an effective, efficient, customer-focused approach to complaints resolution in place.

You should also be aware of the issues and concerns people are raising in their complaints. Your scrutiny of these issues will help to ensure that service users receive a high quality service and that taxpayers receive value for money.

The SPSO has a duty to publish model Complaints Handling Procedures (CHP) which public bodies have a statutory requirement to adopt. The CHP includes a commitment for public bodies to publish information against performance indicators, which will provide consistent complaints data across the various sectors of the public service in Scotland.

The SPSO has produced a short briefing note for Board members which will help you to consider complaints as part of your organisation's governance arrangements.

Complaints Handling

  • Ensure the public body and executive team are learning from service failures and customer insight provided by complaints, with systems in place to record, analyse and report on complaints outcomes, trends and actions taken;
  • Ensure that processes are in place for the public body and executive team to identify and respond immediately to critical or systemic service failures identified from complaints handling;
  • Take an active role in monitoring and reviewing learning from complaints and reviewing individual complaints to obtain an understanding of how any failures occurred and have been addressed;
  • Provide the necessary challenge and hold the senior officer(s) to account for the public body's performance in complaints handling, with Board / Board members themselves regularly monitoring and reviewing the complaints handling performance of the public body; and
  • Ensure that service improvements are agreed, actioned and reviewed, possibly on a quarterly basis.



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