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Complaints procedure must be fair to doctors, says medicolegal group

19 June 2007

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The Medical Defence Union (MDU) says the NHS complaints procedure must be fair to doctors who are complained about, as well as complainants.

Responding to Department of Health proposals for reform of the procedure, Dr Karen Roberts, MDU medicolegal adviser, said: “The procedure should be easy for patients to understand and use, and we welcome the emphasis on resolving concerns effectively locally.

“We strongly endorse the principle of local resolution. In fact, 90% of GP complaints notified to us are resolved at local level. However, it is important that the new procedure is fair to doctors who are complained about, as well as to those making the complaint.

“We understand the reasons given for allowing patients to complain to another body such as a PCT if, for example, their relationship with a GP has broken down badly, but the doctor who is the subject of the complaint should still be involved and must be allowed to contribute to the response to the complaint. It is only fair.

“The doctor must be allowed the opportunity to say what happened and also, as appropriate, to apologise and learn from the complaint, as well taking responsibility for any changes that may be necessary as a result.”