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GMC figures point towards rise in complaints

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Figures from the General Medical Council have revealed complaints have soared by 69% in the last three years. Last year 8,781 complaints were made against all types of Doctors, up by 23% in just 12 months. The likelihood that a complaint about a doctor will be investigated has increased from 1 in 68 to 1 in 64 in a year.

It appears GPs, Psychiatrists and Surgeons receive the most complaints with patients saying they are being ignored, shown no respect or lied too.

It seems as though communication plays a big role in the complaints made, particularly against older doctors who qualified 30 or 40 years ago who may not have been told to ensure that their patients understood what they were saying, and also foreign doctors who trained in different healthcare systems.

There has been a steep rise in complaints about respect, in particular rudeness and dishonesty of the doctors and a lack of dignity. These have risen by 45% on last year.

The GMC has gone some way in trying to explain these rises, by claiming that the rise in complaints does not necessarily mean a fall in standards of care, and could be explained by higher expectations held by patients and that they are more willing to complain when the care does not meet these expectations.

However, they do recognise this could be something more substantive and will closely follow the rise in complaints, and despite this, very few complaints do actually lead to action being taken against a doctor’s medical registration.

By Francesca Snape