Complaints Standards

We aim to transform the public sector complaints process in Northern Ireland through the implementation of new Complaints Standards. We believe that making the process easier will help complainants to understand what level of service to expect when they make a complaint, and will provide a consistent approach for public bodies to follow in addressing complaints quickly and more effectively.

Using our research and own experiences in complaints handling, in 2021 we compiled a questionnaire focusing on our proposals. This formed our public consultation on Complaints Standards which aimed to capture the views of public bodies, the public and other representative bodies in our draft implementation plans.

We received a broad response, totalling 100 submissions. The results have been analysed and minor amendments have been made to our Statement of Principles which form the basic principles which all public bodies should follow when addressing complaints. The revised Statement of Principles was approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly on Wednesday 19 January 2022 , giving us the green light to proceed with this work.

The full consultation report is now available here.

The findings cover the views on the Statement of Principles, the Model Complaints Handling Procedure and our approach to the implementation of our Complaints Standards role.

The individual responses we received from public bodies to each question are also listed separately below:

Q1 (The Statement of Principles)

Q2a (Definition of a complaint)
Q2b (Register of complaints)
Q2c (Two stage complaints process)
Q2d (Frontline response)
Q2e (Investigation stage)
Q2f (Response to complainants)
Q2g (Complex investigations)
Q2h (Information about complaints)
Q2i (Learning from complaints)

Q3 (Sectoral approach)
Q4 (First sector)
Q5 (Comments on specific sectors)
Q6 (Further comments)

The views on which sector we should start with have been carefully considered, and we have decided to start with the Local Government sector.  However, at the same time we will also be preparing to roll out the work within the Health & Social Care sector.

This marks the start of an exciting journey which we believe has the potential to transform complaints handling in the public sector.

To keep everyone informed of the progress of our work we will be providing regular updates.  Please continue to check our website or follow us on Twitter at @NIPSO_Comms.