Person-centred care: advice for non-executive board members

Resource booklet for NHSScotland non-executive board members with an interest in person-centred care.

Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints

Which of the five ‘Must Do With Me’ principles does this relate to?

1. What matters to you?
3. What information do you need?
4. Nothing about me without me
5. Service flexibility

The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced the right for people to give feedback, comments, concerns and complaints about the services they receive from NHS Scotland, and places a duty on the NHS to actively encourage, monitor, take action and share learning from the views they receive.

There were 31,117 complaints made about NHS services in Scotland in 2017-18. The figure includes all hospital visits, and GP, outpatient, dental and ophthalmic appointments, and represents a 32% increase since 2016-17. The increase can largely be attributed to the introduction of an early resolution stage for closure of complaints – these complaints were largely unrecorded in previous years and in 2017-18 accounted for 48% of all cases closed. 

The NHS Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP)

The new NHS Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) was introduced across Scotland from 1 April 2017. The revised procedure is intended to support a more consistently person-centred approach to complaints handling across NHS Scotland. It brings much sharper focus to the early, local resolution of complaints, wherever that’s appropriate, and has brought the NHS into line with other public service sectors by introducing a distinct, five working day stage for early, local resolution, ahead of the 20 working day stage for compliant investigations.

The CHP reflects the broader ambition for the NHS in Scotland to be an open, learning organisation that listens to and acts on feedback and when unintended harm is caused. The procedure complements the Duty of Candour provisions in the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care)(Scotland) Act, and the development of a national approach to reviewing and learning from adverse events.

Background to development of the CHP

The Scottish Health Council’s report: ‘Listening and Learning – how feedback, comments, concerns and complaints can improve NHS services in Scotland’, recommended in 2014 developing a clear, succinct and person-centred model CHP for the NHS, which all boards and their service providers could adapt and adopt. 

The NHS Model CHP has subsequently been developed, led by a Steering Group chaired by the Complaints Standards Authority and involving representatives from across NHS Scotland, working alongside others including the independent Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland public partners.

Number of complaints received for NHS Scotland: 2012-13 to 2017-18

Number of complaints received for NHS Scotland: 2012-13 to 2017-18

Source: ISD (Scotland) NHS Scotland complaints:

Boards must listen to, and act on, every complaint made about the services they provide, and use the information to identify the changes or improvements that could be made to further improve quality of care and treatment. This year, NHS Boards once again published annual reports showing where lessons have been learned, and action taken to improve services, as a direct result of feedback, comments, concerns and complaints.



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