How to handle complaints

One of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's responsibilities is to set and monitor complaints handling standards for the public sector in Scotland. These standards are published as the Model Complaints Handling Procedures (MCHP) and define how we expect each public service sector to handle complaints quickly and simply, with local and early resolution by empowered and well trained staff. 

We put an emphasis on valuing complaints – recording all complaints, reporting key information and using the lessons learned to improve service delivery.

Model Complaints Handling Procedure (MCHP)

The aim of standardising and streamlining complaints handling procedures has been at the core of this work, so all MCHPs are closely aligned. The key elements of each MCHP will be the same for all sectors, including:

  • A shared definition of what is and what is not a complaint
  • A two-stage process where complaints are resolved, with the customer's agreement, as close to the frontline as possible (though resolution can happen at any stage of the process)
  • Frontline response to complaints within five working days
  • An investigation stage of 20 working days, which provides the organisation’s final decision
  • Recording of all complaints
  • Active learning from complaints through reporting and publicising complaints information.

Read the full Model Complaints Handling Procedures here

Guidance and support

We work with public bodies under our jurisdiction to provide essential advice, guidance and training on complaints handling, share learning and best practice, and ultimately enable a more efficient delivery of Scottish public services. 

Find out more about the services we offer to organisations

Support and Intervention Policy

Our Support and Intervention Policy was launched in 2019 and formalises the mechanisms we use to offer support to organisations and take intervention when required, for example if certain complaints handling issues are recurring. The policy offers clarity to public bodies regarding what to expect from us, how and when.

Read the full Support and Intervention Policy here.

Contact us

If on behalf of a public sector organisation you have any questions about complaints handling, or if you require support or guidance, please contact us:

Phone:  0131 297 4863

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Updated: October 27, 2022