GPs deliver 500m consultations a year - and receive just 2.4 complaints each

The average full-time GP carries out around 15,000 consultations a year and receives just 2.4 complaints, official data suggest.

GP consultation (Photo: iStock)
GP consultation (Photo: iStock)

Figures on NHS complaints published this week by NHS Digital reveal that the total number of complaints in primary care rose to 96,700 in 2017/18 - up 4.5% compared with the previous year.

Of these complaints, 80,378 (83%) related to GP surgeries - and the data suggest complaints against GPs rose in line with the overall primary care increase.

GP leaders said it was 'disappointing' to see the increase in complaints, but pointed out that the figures represented 'a very tiny proportion' of patients seen in general practice.

GP complaints

Workforce figures for the end of the 2017/18 financial year show that there were 33,686 full-time equivalent GPs in England - suggesting that the average full-time GP received just 2.4 complaints.

The BMA estimates that there are around 500m GP consultations a year - almost 15,000 per full-time  equivalent GP - and the official data suggest that for every complaint received in general practice, around 6,200 consultations take place.

The rise in complaints was faster in primary care than for secondary care - which saw a 3.3% increase to 113,989.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'It is disappointing to see that there has been in a rise in the number of complaints made against GPs but this needs to be understood in the context of the rapidly rising number of consultations that GPs are providing.


'Where a valid complaint is made and upheld, we believe it’s vital that a GP makes appropriate amends and the practice puts measures in place to make sure the error isn’t repeated.

'The BMA estimates there are half a billion GP consultations in England each year, so while any complaint is regrettable, these figures represent a very tiny proportion of the patients GPs care for.

'In what is a testament to the hard work and dedication of GPs, the results of the recent NHS GP survey paints a more positive and accurate picture of the patient’s experience with the vast majority rating their experience of a GP visit as good; with nine in 10 patients revealing they had trust and confidence in their GP.'

GPonline reported earlier this year that despite rising pressure on general practice, 84% of patients rate their GP practices as good overall.

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