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Easter office closure

Please note that our office will be closed for the Easter holidays from 5pm on Thursday 9 April to 10am until Tuesday 14 April 2020.


COVID-19 update

Please be aware that our office is currently not open to visitors and we are unable to take phone enquiries relating to complaints. However, our Scottish Welfare Fund review service is still available by telephone. Following the latest Government advice, we are not arranging face-to-face appointments for the foreseeable future. We are responding to emails; however, due to the impact on our staffing resources, our response times will be affected.  Please read our information for customers and organisations

Thematic reports

We have produced the following reports highlighting themes of common interest.

Making complaints work for everyone

This report was published in 2017 and focuses on the impact of complaints on staff who have been complained about. Whilst organisations are increasingly more likely to describe themselves as 'learning organisations', research suggests that being subject to a complaint can have an adverse impact on the individual involved and can limit, rather than promote, learning. 

The overriding message that has emerged from this report is that organisations need to actively support their staff through complaints processes and engage staff in positive and purposeful activities to manage and learn from complaints. Getting this right will encourage staff, help drive improvement in services and promote learning.

Input and advice was provided to this report by the staff of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, and by Dr Gordon Skilling, who is a specialist psychiatric adviser to SPSO. Dr Skilling produced a detailed overview of querulousness in support of SPSO's thematic report.

Download the Making Complaints Work For Everyone report (PDF, 560KB)

Download Dr Gordon Skilling's overview on querulousness (PDF, 69KB)

Informed consent

In March 2017, we published our first ever thematic report. It focuses on medical consent - a recurring theme in the complaints people bring us and a particularly topical subject in light of significant and ongoing changes in the law and policy underpinning consent. 

The report details the sometimes devastating impact for individual patients when consent is not properly obtained. The aim of the report, however, is not only to highlight the issues we see, but to explore the context and reasons for this, and to encourage others to use the learning from complaints to support improvements in services. The report sets out the common themes in our investigations in this area, with case studies to illustrate these.  It includes a practical tool (the consent checklist) for health organisations, scrutiny bodies and policy-makers to use in evaluating whether a consent process is robust enough to avoid the common failings we see

Download the Informed Consent report (PDF, 246KB)

Updated: January 31, 2020