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NHS Complaints Statistics

Quality Indicators

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Complaints - Overview

Latest Publications

Published: 24 September 2013
Complaints Statistics - Revised - 03 October 2013
Publication Summary Download pdf file [125kb]
Full Report Download pdf file [305kb]

Complaints about the NHS are valued alongside all other forms of feedback. They are a helpful way of identifying issues and areas in need of change within the service. Acknowledging these issues and taking steps to rectify associated problems is vital in creating an open and honest NHS and in maintaining the quality and safety of NHS services.

ISD Complaints data for the Family Health Services 'All NHS Boards' total, 2012/13, has been revised from 3,966 to 6,130.

There is a wide variation in the type of contact that patients have with the NHS (e.g. treatment as an Inpatient, Outpatient, attendance at A&E, blood donation and transportation by ambulance) and patients (or their representatives) can make a complaint if they feel dissatisfied with any aspect of these interactions. In 2012/13, there were 9,161 complaints received about Hospital and Community Services and 6,130 complaints received about Family Health Services.

NHS Complaints Statistics, Scotland 2012/13, Publication date - 24 September 2013 
A formula error was discovered in the ‘Family Health Services complaints – by service’ Table originally published on 24th September 2013.  The ‘All NHS Boards’ Total for 2012/13 was incorrectly quoted as 3,966.  The correct ‘All NHS Boards’ Total for 2012/13 is 6,130.  This resulted in the number of complaints quoted, and the associated % changes between 2011/12 and 2012/13, being incorrect in the following paragraph:

In total the number of complaints about Family Health Services in 2012/13 was 3,966. Excluding figures for Pharmaceutical and Ophthalmic complaints, which were unavailable for 2011/12, there were 2,992 complaints in 2012/13 compared to 3,538 in 2011/12; a reduction of 15%. Medical complaints have reduced by 13% and Dental complaints by 30%.

The paragraph has been revised as follows:

Family health services are those provided by provided by the family doctor (GP) service and ‘High Street’ dentists, opticians and pharmacists. In 2012/13, there were 6,130 complaints about Family Health Services. Excluding Pharmaceutical and Ophthalmic complaints (which were unavailable for 2011/12), there were 4,804 complaints in 2012/13 compared to 3,538 in 2011/12; an increase of 36%. Medical complaints have risen by 39% and Dental complaints by 20%


Community Services, Family Health Services and Special Health Boards. These data are validated by ISD and checked with the boards after submission. For Hospital and Community Services, information such as the date the complaint was received, service area, issues raised, staff group and outcome of the complaint is summarised by using standard coding convention. For Family Health Services, an annual aggregated return is completed by the NHS organisation, recording the total number of complaints received and percentage of complaints responded to within 20 days, split by service area. To promote consistency of recording practices, ISD rolled out revised definitions and codes nationally in 2008. Further details about these statistics can be found on the statistics page.

Complaints Procedure

The NHS complaints procedure was introduced in April 1996, with a subsequent revision in April 2005. The purpose of the NHS complaints procedure is to provide a simple, flexible, impartial and easily accessible system for the public as well as being fair to NHS practitioners and staff. Each Health Board within NHS Scotland employs staff whose role it is to receive complaints from members of the public and to register the decisions made and actions undertaken. Revisions to the complaints process in 2005 were intended to remove some of the barriers which may have stopped some people complaining about the NHS in previous years. The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced a right to give feedback, make comments, raise concerns or make complaints about the health care received from the NHS in Scotland. Secondary legislation to support the implementation of the Act came into force on 1 April 2012 and revised Good Practice Guidance was issued to the NHS in March 2012. Further details about the complaints process can be found on the current complaints procedure page.

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