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Empower PCOs to hit poor performing GPs with penalties

Complaints procedures need to be amended to make it easier for patients to lodge concerns about doctors.

The inquiry also called for PCOs to play a greater role in dealing with complaints and keeping track of them.

Dame Janet Smith welcom-ed recent changes to the complaints procedure, but said PCOs were not equipped to investigate complaints relating to clinical governance issues.

She said they should combine to set up 'joint investigative teams' to look into such cases.

Where investigations were inconclusive, these should be referred to the Healthcare Commission. It should then hold an oral hearing before a panel.

She also called for GPs to have to tell their PCO of any complaint by a patient within a short time of them receiving it.

In order to make it easier for patients to lodge a complaint, the inquiry recommended the GMC set up a 'single portal' such as a telephone helpline to direct patients and give advice.

'It needs to be as well known as NHS Direct and the Samaritans,' the report concluded.

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