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 recommend that you always check with the organisation to find out what their complaints procedure is, because there are some exceptions to the two-stage complaints procedure.

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)

Usually the two-stage process will go like this:

Stage 1 Early Resolution

Make your complaint directly to the organisation. They will try to resolve your complaint within five working days. If you are unhappy with the response, you can ask them to consider your complaint at stage two.

Stage 2 Investigation

The organisation will look into your complaint in more detail. At stage two you should be given a final decision after no more than 20 working days, unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time. Once you have the final decision from the organisation, if you are still not happy, you can then bring your complaint to us.

If you are having difficulty going through the organisation’s complaints procedure please follow this advice:

  • Look at our factsheet for the sector you are complaining about – these can be found below
  • Contact the organisation to confirm the matter is being dealt with as a complaint, and not as an enquiry or request for services
  • Ask for an update on the progress of your complaint and an estimated timescale of when they expect to respond
  • In the event that you have not received a response to your complaint within the timescales outlined above, and you have made efforts to contact the organisation but have not been given an update, please contact our advice team.

Fact sheets about public service complaints

For further information about the public services that we can investigate complaints for, please read our detailed fact sheets listed below.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the NHS complaints procedure to try to sort things out first.  If you have already complained to the NHS and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the RSL complaints procedure to try to sort things out first. If you have already complained to the RSL and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the council complaints procedure to try to sort things out first.  If you have already complained to the council and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the college or university complaints procedure to try to sort things out first. If you have already complained to the organisation and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

  • Student advice leaflet (PDF)

We look at complaints after you have gone through the  Scottish Prison Service (SPS) or other service provider's complaints procedure to try to sort things out first. If you have already complained to them and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the water or sewerage service provider's complaints procedure to try to sort things out first.  If you have already complained to the service provider and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the Scottish Government complaints procedure to try to sort things out first. If you have already complained to them and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the service's complaints procedure to try to sort things out first.  If you have already complained to the  organisation and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

We look at complaints after you have gone through the service's complaints procedure to try to sort things out first.  If you have already complained to the  organisation and are still not happy, you can ask us if we can look at your complaint.

If you have a complaint about more than one organisation, we would advise you to contact us for advice in the first instance.

Have you completed the public service organisation's complaints process and are ready to take your complaint to the SPSO?

 

Updated: December 3, 2018