Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xm8r8 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-15T23:30:31.907Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Taking Complaints Seriously: The Role of Informality in Complaints About Public Services

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2011

Jackie Gulland*
Affiliation:
School of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling E-mail: Jackie.gulland@stir.ac.uk

Abstract

Recent discussion in the UK has focused on proportionate dispute resolution to deal with people's problems with public services. Complaints procedures, which are seen to be user-friendly and informal, have been held up as good examples of proportionate dispute resolution mechanisms. Most complaints procedures include an informal first stage where, it is argued, most complaints should be resolved but there is little research evidence about what happens at this stage. This article looks at the informal stage of complaints procedures from the perspective of social care service users and considers some of the issues raised by informality.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Adler, M. (2008), ‘The idea of proportionality in dispute resolution’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 30, 4, 309–21.Google Scholar
Adler, M. and Gulland, J. (2003), Tribunal Users’ Experiences, Perceptions and Expectations: A Literature Review, London: Council on Tribunals.Google Scholar
Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (2008), ‘The use of proportionate dispute resolution in tribunals’, Adjust Newsletter, February 2008.Google Scholar
Birkinshaw, P. (2010), ‘Grievances, remedies and the state – revisited and reappraised’, in Adler, M. (ed.), Administrative Justice in Context, Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
Braye, S. and Preston-Shoot, M. (1999), ‘Accountability, administrative law and social work practice: redressing or reinforcing the power imbalance?’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 21, 3, 235–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clarke, J., Newman, J., Smith, N., Vidler, E. and Westmarland, L. (2007), Creating Citizen-Consumers: Changing Publics and Changing Public Services, London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cowan, D. and Halliday, S. (2003), The Appeal of Internal Review: Law, Administrative Justice and the (Non-)Emergence of Disputes, London: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
Dalley, G. and Berthoud, R. (1992), Challenging Discretion: The Social Fund Review Procedure, London: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
Davis, A., Ellis, K. and Rummery, K. (1998), Access to Assessment: The Perspectives of Practitioners, Disabled People and Carers, Bristol: The Policy Press/Community Care magazine.Google Scholar
Department for Constitutional Affairs (2004), Transforming Public Services: Complaints, Redress and Tribunals, Cm6243, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department of Health (2004), Learning from Complaints: Consultation on Changes to the Social Services Complaints Procedure for Adults, London: Department of Health.Google Scholar
Department of Health (2009a), Listening, Responding, Improving: A Guide to Better Customer Care, London: Department of Health.Google Scholar
Department of Health (2009b), Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009, London: Department of Health.Google Scholar
Genn, H. (1999), Paths to Justice: What People Think and Do about Going to Law, Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
Gilad, S. (2008), ‘Accountability or expectations management? The role of the ombudsman in financial regulation’, Law and Policy, 30, 2, 227–53.Google Scholar
Gulland, J. (2007), ‘Complaining, appealing or just getting it sorted out: complaints procedures for community care service users’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
Gulland, J. (2009), ‘Independence in complaints procedures: lessons from community care’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 31, 1, 5972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gulland, J. (2010), ‘Current developments in the UK – complaints procedures and ombudsmen’, in Adler, M. (ed.), Administrative Justice in Context, Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
Law Commission (2006), Remedies against Public Bodies: A Scoping Report, http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/remedies_scoping_report.pdf [accessed September 2007].Google Scholar
Leabetter, D. and Mulcahy, L. (1996), Putting It Right for Consumers: A Review of Complaints and Redress Procedures in Public Services, London: National Consumer Council.Google Scholar
Lipsky, M. (1980), Street Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
Mulcahy, L. (2003), Disputing Doctors: The Socio-Legal Dynamics of Complaints about Medical Care, Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
Mulcahy, L. and Allsop, J. (1997), ‘A woolf in sheep's clothing? Shifts towards informal resolution of complaints in the health service’, in Leyland, P. and Woods, T. (eds.), Administrative Law: Facing the Future − Old Constraints and New Horizons, London: Blackstone.Google Scholar
Mulcahy, L. and Tritter, J. (1998), ‘Pathways, pyramids and icebergs: mapping the links between dissatisfaction and complaints’, Sociology of Health and Illness, 120, 821–47.Google Scholar
National Audit Office (2005), Citizen Redress: What Citizens Can Do If Things Go Wrong with Public Services, London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
National Audit Office (2008), Feeding Back? Learning from Complaints Handling in Health and Social Care, London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
Preston-Shoot, M. (2000), ‘Clear voices for change: messages from disability research for law, policy and practice’, in Cooper, J. (ed.), Law, Rights and Disability, London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.Google Scholar
Rummery, K. (2002), Disability, Citizenship and Community Care: A Case for Welfare Rights? Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (2007), ‘Summary of research into premature complaints’, available at www.spso.org.uk/media-centre/research/research-premature-complaints [accessed January 2011].Google Scholar
Simons, K. (1995), I'm Not Complaining But . . . Complaints Procedures in Social Services Departments, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar