Complaints Procedure

Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership is committed to providing high quality health and social care to the people in our local community. We understand, however, that sometimes things go wrong. If something goes wrong or if you are dissatisfied with something we have done, or have not done, please tell us and we will do our best to put things right. If we cannot resolve matters in the way you want, we will explain why it is not possible to do as you suggest.

This leaflet tells you summary information about our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It includes information about what you can expect from us when we are dealing with your complaint.

For further advice on how to make a complaint, or for further information, please contact the Corporate Administration Officer, contact details can be found on the left hand side of this page.

What is a complaint?

We regard a complaint as:

'An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the service's action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided’.

Who can complain?

Anyone can make a complaint to us. You can complain directly to us, or if you would rather have someone make the complaint on your behalf, we can deal with your representative; this could be a relative, a carer, a friend or any other person that you choose.

We can also give you information about independent support services that can help you to make your complaint. If you agree to someone making the complaint on your behalf, it is important for you to know that we will need to ask for your written permission for us to deal with that person.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about :

  • your care and/or treatment;
  • delays;
  • a failure to provide a service;
  • inadequate quality or standard of service;
  • lack of information and clarity about appointments or a service;
  • difficulty in making contact with us for appointment or queries;
  • operational and procedural issues;
  • our failure to follow the appropriate procedures, guidance or law in delivering our services;
  • disagreement in the decision making of social work services;
  • dissatisfaction with our policy.

It is not possible to list everything that you can complain about. If you want to complain about something that we have not listed above, we encourage you to do so. We also understand that your complaint may involve more than one service within the NHS, Social Work or Council Service or may be about someone working on our behalf. Our complaint procedure covers all of these possibilities.

What can’t I complain about?

There are some things we cannot deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:

  • a routine first-time request for a service, for example a request for an appointment or a request for a specific course of treatment;
  • a request for a second opinion in respect of care or treatment;
  • matters relating to private healthcare or treatment;
  • matters relating to services not provided by or funded by the NHS or Social Work;
  • a previously concluded complaint or a request to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision;
  • a complaint that is being or has been investigated by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO);
  • a complaint about which you have commenced legal proceedings, or have clearly stated that you intend to do so, rather than pursue the matter using the HSCP complaints procedure;
  •  A disagreement with decisions or conditions that are based upon Social Work recommendations, but determined by a court or other statutory body, for example decisions made by a Parole Board or Mental Health tribunal.

It is not possible to list everything that you cannot complain about. If other procedures can help you resolve your concerns, we will give you the relevant information and advice.

How do I complain?

You can make your complaint by e-mail to, by telephone 01475 715280 or in person to any Social Work office or NHS establishment. You can also use the complaints form attached under the documents section on the left hand side of this page.

It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. They will always try to resolve any problems on the spot if it is possible to do so.

When complaining, please tell us:

  • your full name and address, and your email address if this is your preferred method of contact;
  • the full name, address and date of birth of the person affected if you are complaining on behalf of somebody else;
  • as much as you can about the complaint;
  • what has gone wrong;
  • when and where this happened;
  • how you want us to resolve the matter.

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally you must make your complaint within six months of:

• the event you want to complain about; or

• finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why. If we decide that, because of the time that has passed since the incident occurred, we cannot consider your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to review our decision.

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages:

Stage one – frontline resolution

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. Where appropriate, this could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong and immediate action to resolve the problem.

Sometimes we will have to make some enquiries before we can respond to your complaint. We will give you our decision at Stage one in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If we cannot resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage two. You may choose to do this after you get our initial decision.

Stage two – investigation

Stage two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage one and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.

When using Stage two we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days;
  • where appropriate, discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for; and
  • give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days.

If our investigation is likely to take longer than 20 working days, we will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on progress.

What if I’m still dissatisfied?

If you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way in which we have dealt with your complaint when we have sent you our full response, you can ask the SPSO to look at it.

The SPSO cannot normally look at:

  • a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure, so please make sure it has done so before contacting the SPSO;
  • events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago; or
  • a matter that has been to or is being considered in court.

See under contacts on this page for details.

Getting help to make your complaint

We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service as long as the person has given their permission for us to deal with that person. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you. Contact details for advocacy service can be found under contacts section on left hand side of this page.

The Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) is an organisation that provides free and confidential advice and support to patients and other members of the public in relation to NHS Scotland. The service promotes an awareness and understanding of the rights and responsibilities of patients and can advise and support people who wish to make a complaint to the NHS.  Contact details can be found under contacts section on left hand side of this page.

We are committed to making health and social care services easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help you to access and use our services.

If you would like support to make your complaint, or want this information in another language or format please tell us in person or contact us by telephone or e-mail.


Care Opinion

Care Opinion Logo
Care Opinion Logo

Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has signed up to Care Opinion - an independent website where people can share their honest feedback about health and social care services easily and safely - as part of its commitment in building services in partnership with residents.

Service users will be able to feedback on all of the HSCPs health and social care services, as well as the buildings and staff.

All residents are encouraged to have their say after using health and whether it be a compliment, comment or even complaints.  HSCP staff will be able to publicly respond to thank you, discuss your feedback further and update you of any changes as a result of your story. This will mean everyone can see how and where services are listening, learning and changing in response to feedback.

Comments are moderated prior to publication on the website, which ensures they are sent directly to staff in the relevant health or social care service. 

Care Opinion (under its previous name, Patient Opinion) has been leading the way in online feedback and has been used by all health boards in Scotland over the last six years. Thousands of stories have been shared to date, leading to learning and change for many organisations.