NHS statistics show a drop in GP complaints

The number of complaints from patients about family health services in England has dropped, according to statistics from the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care.

The figures show a 2 per cent decrease in written complaints across family health services, from 43,349 in 2005/6 to 42,592 in 2006/7.

There was a marked drop in the number of medical complaints against GPs and other non-dental health professionals, falling from 30,110 in 2005/6 to 27,592 by 8 per cent in 2006/7. This is in contrast to complaints about dental services, which rose from 6,997 to 7,739 over the same period.

Dr Peter Schutte, head of advisory services at the Medical Defence Union, said the drop in medical complaints showed the positive impact of changes made by GPs in dealing with complaints over the past decade.

'What happened before was the whole system of complaints was adversarial', he said. 'Changes have taken place over the past decade which have much more emphasis on conciliation and have seen GPs get better at dealing with complaints and communication, and when necessary apologise. All this means the need for patients to take their grievances further is avoided.

Another factor is an increase in the so-called 'blame culture', which 'has made everyone across all services, not just health, see the importance of sorting out problems before they escalate,' added Dr Schutte.

Although the number of medical complaints has reduced, grievances concerning practice administration, such as receptionists, have rocketed from 4,779 to 6,420 (34 per cent) during the same period.

Dr James Gillgrass, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs and a GPC member, said that teething problems surrounding new initiatives, such as Choose and Book, may be a factor.

He added that even though the number of complaints about administration had increased, the numbers were still low, 'when you consider there are around 8,000 practices'.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP typing at computer

GP practices asked to switch on data sharing with UK Biobank

GP practices have been asked to share patient data with the biomedical database UK...

Child vaccination

'Serious concern' as child vaccination rates slip and MMR hits new low

Health officials have voiced 'serious concern' after child vaccination rates in England...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: GP contract trends, the future of physician associates, cost-of-living impact on patient health

The team discusses what recent tenders for GP contracts tell us about the possible...

GP consultation

GP practices delivering 150,000 extra appointments per day compared with 2019

GP practices in England delivered 150,000 more appointments per working day in the...

Surgeon looking at a monitor in an operating theatre

NICE recommends non-invasive surgical procedure to target obesity

NICE has said that a non-invasive weight loss procedure should be used by the NHS...

GP trainee

Two training posts deliver one full-time GP on average, report warns

Two training posts are needed on average to deliver a single fully-qualified, full-time...