More than 800 GPs could be investigated in the forthcoming financial year, compared with 82 who were formally investigated last year, following the ombudsman’s decision to ‘usually investigate’ from now on if a complaint passes some simple tests.
These include whether the issue falls within the ombudsman’s remit; if the complaint is made within its usual time limit; and whether the complainant could not be reasonably expected to pursue their complaint through other legal means.
Last year (2011/12) the ombudsman investigated 400 NHS complaints, and it estimates that in 2013/14 it will formally investigate 4,000 complaints.
The ombudsman received 2,951 complaints about GPs during 2011/12.
Londonwide LMCs medical director Dr Tony Grewal said GPs needed the threat of a huge increase in investigations ‘like a hole in the head’.
Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said investigations would be vastly increased as a result of ‘feedback from public services, parliamentarians and our public research’.
She said: ‘By sharing more of the learning from complaints that do come to us, we will help organisations get better at resolving the complaints themselves’.
But Dr Grewal said doctors would not learn ‘one iota’ from more investigations.
‘I’ve supported GPs through investigations over many years, and it doesn’t improve them, it destroys them, often expensively and painfully,’ he said.