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Complaints against GPs falling

By Georgie Hobbs

GPs are facing fewer complaints from patients, according to new report from the Information Centre.

The number of written complaints against GPs dropped from 30,110 last year to 27,550 in the year ending in March.

But, the Information Centre, which conducted the annual report, dismissed the decrease against all family health services – including GP administration, dentistry and the work of nurses. It said: ‘This represents little change over the last five years, during which the number of complaints have remained around 43,000.'

In fact, the total number of complaints fell from 43,349 to 42,592 between April 2006 and March 2007.

Dr Peter Schutte, head of the advisory team at the Medical Defence Union affirmed that GPs had got better at handling complaints because they no longer feared hefty fines and repercussions from the ‘adversarial' medical service committee regulations which were scrapped in 1996.

‘The concerns of the patient are addressed much quicker than they used to be, so a grumble doesn't then turn into a complaint, because GPs are better at dealing with patient satisfaction,' he said.

In stark contrast to GPs in the North West who received 3,521 written complaints, those working in the North East appear to provide the best patient care in England, claiming just 1,394 complaints.

Though GPs' treatment in the South West received few complaints, GPs were hampered by complaints about practise administration. Administration complaints in the area were the second highest in England, after London and PCTs in Somerset, South Gloucester and Torbay received significantly more written complaints about practice administration than their medical services.

London practices received the most complaints in England; 4,481 for patient care and 1,427 for practice administration.

GPs in Havering PCT in Greater London topped the scale, receiving 232 written complaints while Kensington and Chelsea PCT in West London performed best, claiming just 72.

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