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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Errors in new pension form could lose GPs thousands

Dr Jeff Featherstone has spoken of his shock and anger after receiving a GMC letter saying he was to be investigated over a 'frivolous' complaint that he knew nothing about.

Dr Featherstone, a GP in Liverpool, said the letter 'frightened the living daylights' out of him.

Then his fear turned to anger when he read that the complaint was not about a clinical issue or serious misconduct, but the way he had communicated with a patient.

'When you see you've got a letter from the GMC and read the words 'complaint', 'investigation' and 'fitness to practise', your heart literally sinks,' he said.

'But this is my first complaint in 25 years, it was not serious professional misconduct and I would have thought it should not have got anywhere near the GMC.'

Dr Featherstone said the system should not allow patients to bypass the practice and local clinical governance and go straight to the GMC with 'frivolous' complaints.

'Complaints handling is becoming a monster with so many arms you don't know which direction the next complaint is coming from.'

He added: 'It could be as trivial as where you parked or how you looked at someone.

'It's not drug abuse, and doesn't involve death or making money from patients. I get it right most of the time but this feels very personal and I really don't feel like going to work this afternoon.'

Doctors' confidence in the GMC was being massively undermined by the current complaints system, Dr Featherstone said. He added he was already aware of one doctor who had quit general practice after receiving a similar letter.

Dr Featherstone must now seek references from his PCT and the hospitals he works at to establish whether a 'track record' of bad behaviour can be determined.

By Ian Cameron

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