Can I Help You? Guidance for handling and learning from feedback, comments, concerns or complaints about NHS health care services.

This guidance is for the NHS and their health service providers to assist them in handling and responding to feedback, comments, concerns and complaints raised in relation to health care in accordance with the Patient Rights (Scotland)Act 2011.


Dear Colleague

The NHS Quality Strategy (2010) establishes our commitment to put people at the heart of everything the health service does in providing safe, effective and person-centred care. The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 builds on this and deliberately raises the status and focus of patients' rights and aims to improve patients' experience of using NHS services in Scotland. The aim is to ensure that patients recognise their rights and work in partnership with NHS staff and health service providers to support their own health, where this is possible.

We know that the NHS in Scotland already provides excellent care but we also know that sometimes things do go wrong. The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, together with supporting legislation, introduces the right to give feedback, make comments, raise concerns and to make complaints about NHS services and it also places a responsibility on the NHS to encourage, monitor, take action and share learning from the views they receive. The Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS), also established as part of the Act, will commence on 1 April 2012 to provide independent advice and support to patients and the public and to raise awareness of their rights and responsibilities.

The aim of this guidance is to help support relevant NHS bodies and their health service providers (which include Primary Care Service Providers) in handling feedback, comments, concerns and complaints. This will help develop a culture that actively encourages and welcomes feedback, comments, concerns and complaints. A culture where all staff, who can potentially be the first point of contact, value all of the views expressed whether these are good or bad in order to learn from peoples' experiences and make improvements. A culture where people feel comfortable about expressing their views of the NHS without fear of this affecting the treatment or service they receive or their relationship with the health care provider.

Our vision is that whatever the setting, care will be provided to the highest standards of quality and safety, with the patient at the centre of all decisions about their health care. It is important that we all work together to achieve this and to evidence how we put people first. I look forward to working with you all to meet this challenge and have the confidence that, together, we can deliver a truly person centred service.

I acknowledge and am grateful to all of the members of the short-life Group and in particular, Laura Campbell, who reviewed and updated the guidance.

Signature of Nicola Sturgeon, MSP Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy


Email: Joanna Swanson

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