GMC says 24% increase in complaints not sign of slipping standards

The GMC has moved to reassure doctors and patients that medical standards have not slipped after its research showed the number of complaints against doctors is at all-time high.

The annual report of fitness-to-practise statistics shows 7,153 complaints about doctors were made to the GMC in 2010 – a 24% increase on 2009 figures.

The GMC also held a record number of investigations and fitness-to-practise hearings in 2010, it revealed.

The report shows that the largest proportion of enquiries received by the GMC in 2010 related to GPs.

GPs also made up the largest proportion of doctors appearing before a fitness-to-practise panel in 2010, the report said.

But GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the rise in complaints and investigations does not mean that standards of medical practice are falling.

He said: ‘Our research shows that doctors and their employers are now much more likely to raise concerns about their medical colleagues - this is a welcome development.

‘Our job is to protect patients. Taking firm action with doctors who are failing to meet our standards is an important part of doing that job and addressing the unacceptable variation in medical practice identified in our recent State of Medicine report.’

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