Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Call us on 0800 377 7330

Most public services in Scotland follow a two-stage complaints procedure. You can find details of the organisation's complaints procedure on their website, or by contacting them directly. We have details about how to complain about a public service, including an example complaint letter, in our SPSO leaflet How to Complain about a Public Service (PDF, 300KB)

We recommend that you always check with the organisation because there are some exceptions to this, most notably if you are making a complaint about social work: for more information, see the SPSO leaflet about social work complaints (PDF, 97KB).

The two-stage procedure

Stage 1: Frontline Resolution

Make your complaint directly to the organisation. You can do this in person, by phone, by letter or email. The organisation will try to resolve your complaint within 5 working days if they can. They may respond to you by phone or in person to try and resolve things. If you are unhappy with the response, you can ask the organisation to consider your complaint at stage 2.

Stage 2: Investigation

At stage 2 you should receive an acknowledgement of your complaint within 3 working days. You will be given a decision as soon as possible. This should be after no more than 20 working days unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time. If your complaint is complex or needs more detailed investigation, the organisation may look at your complaint immediately at this stage without going through stage 1.

Further information

If you are having difficulties complaining to a public service, or there are delays in your complaint being responded to, we have some advice on what to do.

Further information about different public services is provided on our sector-specific pages, which can be accessed using the links below. If your complaint is about another type of organisation (for example a bank, energy provider or the police), we have a list of other people who may be able to help with your complaint. If you have already completed the complaints procedure, you can bring your complaint to the SPSO.

NHS complaints
NHS (health)

Housing (RSL) complaints
Housing (RSL)

Council complaints

College or university complaints
College / University

Prison complaints

Water service complaints

Scottish Government and Directorates complaints
Scottish Government

Commissioner or regulatory / inspection agency complaints
Commissioner or Regulatory / Inspection Agencies

Multi-agency complaints
Multi-Agency Complaints

Contact us

  • Freephone adviceline 0800 377 7330
  • Online:
  • In person 4 Melville Street, Edinburgh, EH3 7NS (see a map)
  • By post FREEPOST EH641, Edinburgh, EH3 0BR
  • Fax 0800 377 7331

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Updated: October 16, 2015