This site is intended for health professionals only

GMC: Complaints against doctors double

22 July 2014

Share this article

A report carried out by Plymouth University has revealed a large increase in the number of complaints against doctors and the medical services as a whole.

The report, commissioned by the General Medical Council (GMC), attributed the rise in negative press to patients being more informed, having higher expectations and greater access to social media and health forums.

Despite this, the GMC said there was no real evidence to point towards falling standards.

Lead author of the report from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr Julian Archer told the BBC: “They show that the forces behind a rise in complaints against doctors are hugely complex and reflect a combination of increased public awareness, media influence, the role of social media technology and wider changes in society.”

Complaints made by the public against doctors have doubled in five years from 5,168 in 2007 to 10,347 in 2012.

The investigation concluded that although there were a number of trends that have led to patients being more prone to complain, there was a lack of cause for the rising complaints.

Chief executive of GMC, Niall Dickson said: “We have no evidence that the rise in complaints against doctors reflects falling standards.

“The challenge for the GMC and other organisations is to make sure that anyone who has a concern or complaint can find their way to the right organisation to deal with it. For the vast majority of patients and relatives, that will mean local resolution.

“The large number of complaints we receive that are not for us suggests that the current system is not working as well as it should.”

The negative press could be hurting the reputation of the NHS and GMC said that many of the complaints they receive are not relevant.

The role of the GMC is to make sure that complaints are directed to the correct authorities.

Archer told the BBC: “The report also indicated that there is much to do to improve the wider complaint handling system, so that complaints made by the general public about their doctors are directed to the appropriate authorities.”