Complaints about doctors rise by 23%
The GMC have published their annual ‘The state of medical education and practice in the UK 2012’ report which shows that complaints about doctors rose by 23% from 2010 to 2011. This increase continues a pattern which has been rising since 2007. Most complaints in the last year have come from the public and the GMC figures reveal a significant rise in concerns about how doctors communicate with their patients. Complaints about communication and a lack of respect rose by 69% and 45% respectively.
An increase in complaints does not necessarily indicate a fall in medical standards, although the report does show that the likelihood of the GMC investigating a doctor has increased slightly from one in 68 in 2010 to one in 64 in 2011. However, the number of doctors falling seriously below the standards expected remains relatively small - 65 doctors had their right to practice removed and a further 93 were suspended, both figures showing a fall on the previous year.
This report follows a trend being seen across the health sector. The Department of Health have recently published figures showing that complaints about the NHS have also increased.
The GMC are introducing a number of new measures to deal with the rise in complaints, including a programme of regular checks for all doctors - known as revalidation - which is planned to start at the end of this year. A confidential helpline for doctors will also be introduced later this year.