Complaints about GPs increase 7%

Complaints about GPs have increased since last year, figures from the parliamentary and health service Ombudsman have revealed.

Dr Vautrey: 'I think we’ve seen an increasing culture where patients are actively encouraged to complain'

The Ombudsman’s review of complaint handling by the NHS in England 2010/11 found that complaints against GPs were up by 162 since 2009/10.

However complaints about GPs (2,581) accounted for just 17% of the total 15,066 NHS complaints in 2010/11, the same percentage as the previous year.

The Ombudsman investigated and reported on 48  of the complaints and 88% of those complaints where upheld.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that the increase in complaints in 2010/11 was ‘no surprise’.

‘I think we’ve seen an increasing culture where patients are actively encouraged to complain,’ he said.

As part of its report the Ombudsman looked into the number of complaints about GPs it had received which referred to patients being removed from GP lists.

The Ombudsman said the number of investigated complaints about people being removed from their GP’s list of registered patients rose by 6% from 2009/10.  

In total 21% of all investigated complaints about GPs were due to patients being removed from lists.

The report said this ‘suggest that GPs are failing to manage relationships with patients properly, resulting in a breakdown in communication and patients being removed from GP patient lists without fair warning or proper explanation'.

However Dr Vautrey said that the increase in number of complaints regarding patients being removed from lists was not significant enough to be a concern.

‘These are obviously very small numbers,’ he said.

Dr Vautrey said that where relationships between the GPs and patients had broken down, it was more likely that the patient would complain.

Overall Dr Vautrey said GPs would always do their best to maintain good working relationships.

‘I think GPs would do their level best to maintain a relationship with their patients,’ he said.

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