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£500m for care in quangos cull

The Healthcare Commission has formally taken over the investigation of complaints against doctors that have not been resolved at local level. It insisted the new process would be 'fairer, faster, more independent and more consistent'.

The commission replaced local 'convenors' from July 30 after patients said they believed the old process was not fully independent.

A Government report in 2001 found 75 per cent of complainants believed the second stage was unfair or biased.

GPs have complained the change will lead to a rise in vexatious complaints and deny doctors the right to respond directly to patients.

The commission is 'geared up' to handle up to 5,000 complaints a year, compared with the current system's average of 3,500 over the last four years.

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