Complaints Policy

This is a helpful guide to make sure you are making a complaint to the right organisation.

1. Introduction

1.1 MND Scotland wants to know when things go wrong so we can put them right and learn from them. One of the methods of doing this is through a complaints procedure.

1.2 Through a complaints procedure we aim to give our members and service users a fair, consistent and structured process to allow them to voice their concerns of our services.

1.3 We will use the outcome of complaints and any remedial action as a positive method of monitoring performance and improving our services.
Our objective in this is to:

  • Improve the quality of the services we provide
  • Improve our relations with members and service users
  • Incourage best practice

1.4 All MND clients and their families should be made aware of the Complaints Procedure and how to access it when they first receive a service from us, and of their right to complain about any aspect of service with which they are unhappy. Other people who have the right to raise complaints relevant to our responsibilities towards them include:

  • Subcontractors
  • External colleagues
  • Supporters and previous clients of MND Scotland
  • The general public

Staff are required to use MND Scotland’s Grievance Procedure to raise concerns.

1.5 MND Scotland will accept complaints from third parties who feel that they have been adversely affected by any actions of MND Scotland.

1.6 Should someone choose to make an anonymous complaint, we will investigate to ensure that any potential form of bad practice will be dealt with. However, the Comlainant must understand that they will not know the outcome of such investigation, and MND Scotland’s ability to investigate will be hampered by being unable to seek out further information.

1.7 MND Scotland reserves the right to investigate complaints made against any MND Scotland representative, including subcontractors, if the complaint falls within our responsibility for that service.

1.8 We recognise that many people find it difficult to make complaints, for practical, or emotional reasons, and will accept representation from friends, family members or Advocacy workers, provided we are satisfied that the views being expressed are that of the complainant.

1.9 Where a Complainant needs support to understand MND Scotland’s Complaints Policy or to use the procedures, an Advocacy or Information worker will support them to do this.

1.10 Should a person with MND or a family member wish to have support to take a complaint, MND Scotland will provide details of Advocacy and Advice services which they would be entitled to use. We do not recommend that complainants use MND Scotland advocates to ensure that outcomes cannot be perceived as being compromised, however, we recognise that in some cases, there may be no other appropriate advocacy services, or the wait for a service may be too long for someone with a life limiting condition, and will not deny Complainants the right to use our Advocacy service in such circumstances.

1.11 MND Scotland will not normally pay the expenses of the complainant (eg. travel costs)

2. Principles

2.1 Our members and service users have a right to:

  • Have their views heard
  • Have their views heard
  • Receive a good-quality service
  • Expect prompt action when our performance is below standard, balanced by the resources we have available

2.2 Our staff will be efficient and sensitive to the needs of service users.

2.3 We will advise members and service users of the standard of service they should expect, including time limit for replying to their complaint and any right of appeal.

2.4 We will monitor all complaints and review them on a regular basis.

3. Defining a Complaint

3.1 A complaint is defined as any expression of dissatisfaction with our services, whether justified or not.
This would include times when:

  • We have not done something we said we would.
  • We have taken too long to do something.
  • We have not kept people informed as to what is happening.
  • We have not achieved the publicised standard.
  • An MND Scotland representative has been rude or unfair
  • Or there is a perception of any of the above.

3.2 Complaints must be made by the person, (or their appointed representative) who was involved in the incident being complained about.

3.3 A complaint should be made within one month of the incident occurring. Only in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Chief Executive and Chairman, will complaints referring to incidents older than this be considered.

3.4 Complaints relating to services provided by members of the care team or other NHS employees must be made through the NHS complaints procedure. The Organisation can assist in this by providing copies of the NHS complaints procedure and by giving contact details for the line managers of the care team.

3.5 MND Scotland will not take an excessively bureaucratic approach, but reserves the right to involve other organisations such as the police, should such action be legally relevant and justified.

4. Definition of ‘complaint’

4.1 We recognise that there are many kinds of complaints, and that different responses may be relevant in different circumstances, although all complaints must be taken seriously and responded to. For the purposes of this policy, a complaint is defined as being ‘an expression of dissatisfaction’.

4.2 It is recognised that at times people do not wish to make a formal complaint but rather just wish to draw a matter to MND Scotland’s attention. There is a need, therefore, to distinguish between informal and formal complaints.

Informal complaints are not required to be put in writing and the person does not always require feedback to what action has been taken as a result of the complaint being made. They may be fairly casual comments. The investigator should check whether the complainant would like feedback, and provide this in a communication format which is accessible to the complainant. Feedback should be provided within 2 weeks where required, and should the complainant wish, they may choose to take the issue further as a formal complaint.

Formal complaints are to be put in writing, or in another form of reusable record (eg. a tape), if the complainant is unable to complain in writing, and if a written/ recorded response is required. This includes emails.

4.3 All staff who receive Complaints are obliged to record the situation in MND Scotland’s Complaints File, including details of how it was resolved.

5. The Procedure

5.1 We will deal with all complaints:

  • Promptly
  • Efficiently
  • Courteously
  • Systematically

5.2 The complainant will be provided with knowledge of how to access the entire process at the first stage of making their complaint, and this will include details of how to take the complaint to an external membership/ regulation body, if relevant, should the complainant be unhappy with the final outcomes of MND Scotland’s investigation.

Stage 1

Complaints should initially be dealt with by the person receiving the complaint. In the first instance this would be expected to be the person responsible for the service being complained about. However, we understand that sometimes, depending on the nature of the complaint, making complaints can be an intimidating experience, and acknowledge the complainant’s right to approach the line manager of the person against whom they are complaining. The complaint will be acknowledged within seven working days of receipt with a letter/ email stating:

  • What will be done
  • How long before a reply will be given
  • Who to contact about the complaint

5.3 Complaints can be made directly to the person involved or their line manager should the Complainant have details. Otherwise all complaints should be directed to the Chief Executive and Complaints Manager of MND Scotland, Craig Stockton on 0141 332 3903, or craig.stockton@mndscotland.org.uk.

The investigation will be carried out as soon as possible, and will be completed within two weeks unless there is a valid reason for this not happening, and we will keep the complainant informed about:

  • The progress of our investigation of the complaint
  • Any obstacles or delays, and the anticipated actions and timeframes to overcome them
  • The final outcome (in writing)

Stage 2

Should the complainant be dissatisfied with the outcome they receive, they have the right to appeal within one week to the line manager of the person being complained about, or the Chief Executive. That person will convene a panel of at least 2 MND Scotland representatives to hear the appeal. This should be done within two weeks of the decision letter (or email) being posted.
The appeal will be acknowledged within seven working days of receipt with a letter/email stating:

  • What will be done
  • How long before a reply will be given
  • Who to contact about the complaint

The investigation will be carried out as soon as possible, and will be completed within two weeks unless there is a valid reason for this not happening and we will keep the complainant informed about:

  • The progress of our investigation of the complaint
  • Any obstacles or delays, and the anticipated actions and timeframes to overcome them
  • The final outcome (in writing)

Stage 3

Should the complainant be dissatisfied with the outcome they receive, they have the right to appeal within one week to the Chair of the Board of Trustees, who will convene a panel of at least 2 people, one of whom will be from an organisation external to MND Scotland. . This should be done within two weeks of the decision letter (or email) being posted.
The appeal will be acknowledged within seven working days of receipt with a letter/ email stating:

  • What will be done
  • How long before a reply will be given
  • Who to contact about the complaint

The investigation will be carried out as soon as possible, and will be completed within two weeks unless there is a valid reason for this not happening and we will keep the complainant informed about:

  • The progress of our investigation of the complaint
  • Any obstacles or delays, and the anticipated actions and timeframes to overcome them
  • The final outcome (in writing or a retainable recordable format)


5.4 Making a complaint about the Chief Executive

As there is no management tier, and only two tiers of governance above the Chief Executive’s role, there are only two stages in the Procedure should a Complainant wish to raise an issue about the chief Executive. As with other staff, the complainant also has the right to raise an issue directly with the Chief Executive.

Stage 1

Should the complainant wish to make a complaint about the Chief Executive, they have the right to complain to the Board of Trustees. A panel of at least 2 MND Scotland representatives, excluding the Chair of the Board of Trustees will be convened to hear the appeal. This should be done within two weeks of the decision letter (or email) being posted.
The appeal will be acknowledged within seven working days of receipt with a letter/email stating:

  • What will be done
  • How long before a reply will be given
  • Who to contact about the complaint

The investigation will be carried out as soon as possible, and will be completed within two weeks unless there is a valid reason for this not happening and we will keep the complainant informed about:

  • The progress of our investigation of the complaint
  • Any obstacles or delays, and the anticipated actions and timeframes to overcome them
  • The final outcome (in writing)

Stage 2

Should the complainant be dissatisfied with the outcome they receive, they have the right to appeal within one week to the Chair of the Board of Trustees, who will convene a panel of at least 2 people, one of whom will be from an organisation external to MND Scotland. . This should be done within two weeks of the decision letter (or email) being posted.

The appeal will be acknowledged within seven working days of receipt with a letter/ email stating:

  • What will be done
  • How long before a reply will be given
  • Who to contact about the complaint

The investigation will be carried out as soon as possible, and will be completed within two weeks unless there is a valid reason for this not happening and we will keep the complainant informed about:

  • The progress of our investigation of the complaint
  • Any obstacles or delays, and the anticipated actions and timeframes to overcome them
  • The final outcome (in writing or a retainable recordable format)

5.5 It is the responsibility of the lead investigator at each stage to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest regarding those involved in the investigation.

5.6 The Complainant has the right to attend a complaints panel meeting accompanied by a
supportive person in a non legal capacity, at all stages of the complaint investigation, and to do this without coming into contact with the person they are making the complaint about.

5.7 Where the investigation reveals a potential serious misdemeanour, or crime, MND Scotland may suspend employed or contracted staff throughout the investigation. MND Scotland reserves the right to contact the police and/ or the relevant governing body if the complaint indicates that there are reasonable grounds to do so. In some circumstances, this may mean any investigation by MND Scotland will be suspended.

5.8 When appealing against a previous decision, we will ask the complainant to state their dissatisfaction with how we handled the complaint. We will also ask them to tell us what they consider to be the nature of service failure.

5.9 Should the complainant at any point decide to take legal action in relation to the complaint, the Complaints process will be terminated. MND Scotland reserve the right to decide whether to proceed with the Complaint pending the outcome of the legal case.

6. Extending time limits

6.1 The entire process of formal investigation, unless there are good reasons for delay, which will be made clear to all parties involved, should be concluded within 9 weeks. Should the process start with an informal complaint, the process will be concluded within 11 weeks.

6.2 If translation or interpretation is required, we may extend the time limit of each stage by 7 days. If the complaint is complex, we may extend the time limit subject to the consent of the complainant. In both cases, this will be avoided where possible, as it is in everyone’s interests to reach resolution more quickly. When it is necessary to extend, we will keep the complainant informed of the new deadline.

6.3 Where there is a cost to interpretation, or other processes required to make the process accessible to the complainant, and where the complainant is willing to accept the most cost effective way of meeting their needs, this will be met by MND Scotland, regardless of whether the complaint is found to have substance, provided it can be viewed as reasonable and non malicious

6.4 Should the complainant disengage from the process without proper reason, MND Scotland will assume that the complaint has been withdrawn, and reserves the right to discontinue the process.

7. Confidentiality

7.1 Any complaint processed through the procedure will be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.1998; and GDPR 2018 and with respect to client confidentiality at all times.

8. Conclusion of Procedure

8.1 The Complainant will receive a response in a written format, or format accessible to them, stating clearly whether their complaint, or parts of their complaint have been upheld, with an explanation as to why this is the case, or why any parts of the complaint have not been upheld.

8.2 At the conclusion of the process, and regardless of the outcome, we will send copies of the outcome to any relevant governing body such as COSCA.

8.3 There is no further right of appeal after Stage 3 (or Stage 2 if the complaint is against the Chief Executive) has been concluded. However, should the complainant still be unhappy with the response they have received, they have the right to complain to an external regulation or membership body of the service they are complaining about, if relevant. MND Scotland will provide the details of any such organisation with the letter concluding the investigation.
MND Scotland is a member of COSCA as a regulatory body for our Counselling services. COSCA’s Complaints Procedure can be accessed at www.cosca.org.uk/guidance-policies/complaints

8.4 When a complaint has been upheld, MND Scotland will take action commensurate to the seriousness of the findings.

8.5 When the complaint has been found against a staff member, MND Scotland will use internal Disciplinary Procedures to deal with staff as appropriate. For externally contracted workers such as Counsellors, we may ask for evidence of changes in practice, make a report to the person’s regulatory body, or discontinue our contract with the person. In all cases, we will review relevant processes and policies with a view to minimising the chance that similar difficulties will occur in the future.

Have a question? Contact us for more information.