About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides information on the total number of complaints received by NHSScotland organisations from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Main points

  • There was a 41% increase in the total number of NHSScotland complaints received in 2021/22 (35,172) compared to the previous year.
  • Since the previous year, the number of both NHS Territorial and Special Boards complaints increased by 34% to 23,295 from 17,333.
  • NHS Contractor complaints increased by 47% to 11,877, (previously 8053). Of this total, Independent GP Practice contractor complaints increased by 38% to 7356 (previously 5326) and Independent Pharmacy contractors increased by 68% to 3572 (previously 2120).
  • The total number of complaints that were closed in 2021/22 by NHS boards went up by 36% (21,774). This does not include contractor data, withdrawn cases or cases where consent was not received.
  • Stage one (early resolution) complaints closed (11,196) accounted for 51% of all complaints closed. An increase of 1% on the previous year.
  • Stage two (investigation) complaints closed (7984) accounted for 37% of overall complaints closed, a decrease of 3% on the previous year.
  • 2594 stage two escalated complaints closed (those unable to be resolved at stage one) accounted for 12% of overall complaints. This is an increase of 2% on the previous year.
  • The number of complaints upheld at stage one (31%) increased by 4% whilst the percentage of complaints upheld at stage two remained stable at 25%. The number of stage two escalated complaints upheld (34%) increased by 6% since 2020/21.
  • Within their agreed timescales, 73% of stage one complaints were closed on time within five working days (a decrease of 5%), 52% of stage two complaints were closed on time within 20 working days (decrease of 11%) and 31% of stage two escalated complaints were closed on time within 20 working days (decrease of 14%).


This report provides information on NHSScotland complaints received about hospital and community health services, family health services, special boards and national and support organisations.

It includes the number of complaints received; the time taken to deal with complaints and the outcome of complaints. The individual NHS Board's Complaints and Feedback reports include; issues raised; actions taken; service areas and staff groups who were the subject of complaints, though this varies between the NHS Boards.

The number of complaints and associated data trends may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as many NHS services were paused throughout this time period.

Our complaints process provides two opportunities to resolve (close) complaints internally: Early resolution, and Investigation. More details are found in The NHS Model Complaints Handling Procedure (external website).

Further information

The next release of this publication will be December 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.statsgov@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 20 November 2023
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