Complaints procedure is a licence for bullying

I could not agree with Chris Lancelot more (GP, 5 September) - the patient complaints procedure has become a tool for patients to bully us with.

In the past six months we have twice had patients make a complaint against us after we had remonstrated with them over their verbal abuse of our reception staff. On both occasions the patients called us liars and denied any verbal abuse.

In both cases we were advised by the conciliator to give a written apology, not because we were wrong, but because if the patients took it further then it would count against us that we had not offered an apology.

At no time was it suggested that the patients apologise to us.

As it stands this complaints procedure is a licence for bullies, and the PCTs and conciliators are collaborating with the patients in this.

The conciliators appear to believe it is their job to get a result in favour of the patient as this is the only way to stop the matter going further. It should be possible for the PCT to make a decision on matters of this nature and prevent it going further if it is clear it is a matter of one person's word against another - as these things often are.

It should not be possible for the matter to escalate to a point where there may be serious consequences for us but not for the patient, because this puts us under unreasonable pressure to accept fault even where the patient is entirely in the wrong.

Name and address withheld.

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