Complaints about doctors increase by 23% in one year
The number of complaints about doctors has increased by 23% in the past year, according to the General Medic Council (GMC).
The number has risen from 7,153 in 2010 to 8,781 in 2011, and 47% of these concerned GPs.
However, the GMC, an organisation that overseas UK doctors, denies any correlation between the complaints and a fall in medical standards.
They claim that contributing factors to the increase include a rise in expectations and a fall in tolerance, as well as people being more likely to complain and also the sensational media coverage.
Dr Mark Porter, the council chair at the British Medical Association (BMA) said: “It is a good thing that patients feel more empowered to raise their concerns, but it is important that there is further research to find out why there has been an increase in complaints and the nature of those being made.”
“Even though medical standards remain high and the number of complaints is very small, compared with the millions of consultations every year, we should always strive to find ways of improving the quality of care.”
The GMC report, State of medical education and practice in the UK, stated interaction between doctors and their patients generated a marked increase in complaints. Communication related complaints went up by 69% and those concerned by lack of respect also logged 45% more than last year.
The report further showed that GPs, psychiatrists and surgeons attracted the most complaints. Almost three quarters of complaints received in 2011 targeted male doctors, despite only 57% of all registered doctors being male.
Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC, said: “We need to respond to the rising number of complaints about doctors – a pattern seen across healthcare.
“Every day there are millions of interactions between doctors and patients and all the evidence suggests that public trust and confidence in the UK’s doctors remains extremely high.”