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Independents' Day

How GPs can fight back over complaints

I think we have all experienced the mindless process of the complaints procedure. It is worth remembering that without a long-winded and bureaucratic process, the complaints staff would not have jobs, so it is not in their interests to consider complaints either sensibly or in any wider context.

We cannot expect them to behave in any other way. In effect, they are just 'obeying orders' ­ quite chilling in its way.

There are two ways we can oppose the system:

·Non-co-operation Refuse to answer all letters/phonecalls, or, better, reply to the last letter but one. Perhaps we should insist on fully-paid leave of absence while a complaint is being considered?

·Retaliation There is an apocryphal story that a GP did once complain about a complaints officer, resulting in her prolonged absence from work due to stress. 'Those who live by the sword....'

More positively, every complaint should have a clearly stated aim, whether it is a simple apology, or

a request for review of some procedure.

Once that is achieved, then the complaint is completed and no further 'process' can take place. If the stated aim is unrealistic ­ for example, 'all GPs should always smile' ­ then this is pointed out, and the complaint is thrown out.

Dr Graham Saunders



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