Complaints about individual GPs fall despite rise for practices

Complaints against individual GPs have fallen despite an 8% rise in written complaints about GP and dental practices since last year, official data suggest.

Complaints about clinicians fall despite overall rise for GP and dental practices
Complaints about clinicians fall despite overall rise for GP and dental practices

NHS Information Centre data on written complaints in the NHS for 2011/12, which combine statistics for GP and dental practices - show that written complaints by patients in England rose 8.2% since the previous year.

There were 50,708 written complaints in 2010/11 compared to 54,870 in 2011/12.

Despite an increase in complaints overall, the number of complaints about individual GPs had fallen since last year, by almost 3%.

Although written complaints about clinicians accounted for just over half (54.5%) of all complaints made to practices, they had fallen by 2.9% - from 30,784 in 2012/11 to 29,897 in 2011/12.

Written complaints about a clinical service - advice and treatment provided by a care professional in a GP or dental practice – rose by nearly 11% from 17,465 in 2010 -11 to 19,336 in 2011/12.

Across the NHS as a whole the reported number of written complaints rose by around 8%, with 162,129 complaints reported in 2011/12 – the equivalent of 3,000 a week.

In 2011/12, 36 PCTs said they were unable to provide complete returns for all practices within their area compared to 29 in 2010/11.

This may have been due to a practice receiving no complaints in the year, or not notifying their PCT of complaints received, the report said.

The report also noted that PCTs had recently done more work to gather complaints data from practices, which may have contributed to the overall increase of reported complaints in 2011/12.

Responding to the report, NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout said: ‘An increase in the number of complaints doesn't necessarily mean that patients are less satisfied with their care.

‘Although it sounds peculiar, a rise in complaints data can actually mean that patients feel more engaged with their local NHS and want to work with it to improve. It's also a sign that patients are confident their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.’

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