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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Complaint system's been hijacked

About 1990 all NHS organisations had to introduce complaints procedures. Emollient tongues at the time assured us this would be a non-threatening and positive process and we should encourage and welcome complaints, viewing them as pearls or nuggets that would enable us to improve quality and standards and so on.

Perhaps the advocates of the system believed it would work as planned but, as one might have anticipated (and some of us did) this process has been hijacked and is now used as a blunt instrument to attack us.

Thus we have the current situation with seemingly vexatious complaints being doggedly pursued and hospital complaints departments swamped and newspaper headlines announcing the massive increases in complaints that have resulted.

So when I hear the new emollient tongues telling us appraisal and reaccreditation are helpful and

non-threatening processes (aimed at improving quality and standards) I get a kind of sinking feeling of deja-vu mixed with a sense of relief that after the next 10 or so NHS reorganisations ­ sorry, years ­ I will have retired.

I look forward and wonder if I will be reading new headlines such as '40 per cent rise in GPs being sent for retraining' and '80 per cent rise in number of doctors struck off register'.

Dr Richard Lynch-Blosse

Abingdon

Oxfordshire

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