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GP considers quitting over vexatious patient complaint

A GP has threatened to quit after being forced to attend an independent review panel for telling a patient not to call her practice nurse 'a bitch'.

Dr Gerri McKeever is outraged that a patient has been allowed to pursue what she claims is a 'vexatious complaint' after she verbally abused the nurse during a pre-registration health check.

Dr McKeever, a GP in Rochester, Kent, branded the hearing, which takes place this week, 'ridiculous'.

'I am disgusted because this has taken up a great deal of my time when I could be doing things to help patients. It has also given this patient carte blanche to behave like this with other doctors,' she said.

'This should have been thrown out. Now I am up before a review panel and I have never even consulted with the patient.'

A spokeswoman for Medway PCT said it had a duty to investigate complaints from patients. She added the trust accepted GPs might feel the complaints procedure favoured patients.

But LMCs have denounced the current complaints procedure for encouraging trivial complaints against doctors.

Government figures show a 20 per cent surge in the number of written complaints against GPs and family health services since the procedure was introduced in 1996.

LMCs called for better training for convenors, who decide whether to grant a patient's request for an independent review panel after local resolution has failed.

Kent LMC clerk David Barr said: 'I think there is a tendency to allow the patient to be heard, hoping the matter will rest there.'

Dr Dean Marshall, secretary of Lothian LMC and a GPC member, said vexatious complaints were increasing because of varying calibres of convenors. 'There has to be some way of dealing with this locally where lay people can say, "this is a vexatious complaint",' he said.

Scottish GPC has opposed Scottish Executive proposals to pass complaints straight to the Ombudsman.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'It's terrible to spend taxpayers' money persecuting people on the basis of vexatious complaints.'

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