GPs must follow complaints rules

GP practices should check they fully understand current NHS complaints procedures and appoint a specific member of staff to handle complaints, medico-legal experts have warned.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) said it had received requests from GPs for help with the complaints procedure, which changed in 2009.

It warned that many practices may be failing to meet the complaints requirements. These include producing a written plan setting out how a complaint will be dealt with and undertaking a structured and proportionate investigation.

The MPS said GPs also needed to inform complainants of their right to approach the parliamentary and health service ombudsman if they were unhappy with how a complaint was dealt with.

MPS director of policy and communications, Dr Stephanie Bown, said: 'We would strongly encourage practices to familiarise themselves with the new procedure so they feel confident in dealing with complaints in the proper manner.'

The MPS advised practices to appoint a partner to act as a 'responsible person' to ensure compliance with procedures.

Both the Medical Defence Union and the MPS have reported a rise in claims against GPs in 2010.

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