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GPs go forth

CQC tells patients to complain about GP care to improve services

The healthcare inspector is encouraging patients to complain about their experiences of GP care if they have concerns, in order to improve services.

The CQC said almost 7m patients who have accessed health or social care services in the last five years had concerns about their care, but never raised them, and more than half (58%) regret not doing so.

Its chief executive said the majority of services 'really appreciate this feedback' and the complaints help them to improve.

The findings come as part of CQC-commissioned research and found that when patients did complain, two-thirds (66%) saw their issue resolved and the service in question improved.

The research - carried out in November and December last year with just over 2,000 people - is part of a new campaign which calls on patients to ‘Declare Your Care’, in order to improve standards.

It found most people who complained reportedly did so out of a desire to make sure care improved for others, including wanting to improve the care they/a loved one received (61%) and improve care for everyone using the service (55%).

However, over a quarter of patients complained in the hope of an apology or explanation (26%).

The CQC research also reported:

  • The most common reasons for not raising a concern were not knowing how (20%) or who (33%) to raise it with, not wanting to be seen as a ‘troublemaker’ (33%) and worries about not being taken seriously (28%)
  • Over a third of people (37%) felt that nothing would change as a result
  • The main reasons given for raising, or wanting to raise a concern, were delays to a service or appointment, lack of information and poor patient care
  • Over a fifth indicated that they have raised or wanted to raise concerns about the lack of communication between health and care services

Last year, official figures showed the number of complaints relating to primary care services, including GPs, are on the rise with a 4.5% year-on-year increase.

CQC chief executive Ian Trenholm said: ‘We know that when people raise a concern they have a genuine desire to improve the service for themselves and others. We also know that the majority of services really appreciate this feedback and make positive changes, as this new research shows.'

‘Everyone can play a part in improving care by directly giving feedback to services, or by sharing information and experiences with us so that we can take action when we find poor care. Sharing your experience also enables us to highlight the many great examples of care we see,' he added.

State for Care minister Caroline Dinenage said: ‘We want the NHS and social care system to provide the safest, most compassionate care in the world. This means encouraging patients to speak up with concerns, ensuring we act on them and learning from what happened so we can do better in future.

‘That’s why I encourage anyone who has concerns over their care, or the care of loved ones, to share their experiences with the CQC - so they can continue their vital work of protecting patients and improving the excellent care we see across the health service.’

BMA GP Committee executive team member Dr Farah Jameel said: 'The vast majority of people in England receive a good quality of care and this is to be celebrated. General practice in particular continues to perform far higher than any other sector.

'Good healthcare delivery relies on all parts of the system to function together in a way that works for the patient, and processes are always being refined to suit patients’ needs. We would always encourage patients to feedback any concerns they have so that these can be addressed and services improved.'

Medical Protection education services lead Dr Pallavi Bradshaw said: 'The culture in healthcare should be one of learning, both from adverse incidents and near misses with doctors confident to acknowledge error without fear.

'But dealing with complaints can be an emotionally stressful time and this is why we work with members to provide advice and support as well as education and practical tools which help with communication following an adverse event.

'A lot can also be learnt from positive patient experiences and successful outcomes and we would encourage patients to feedback on those experiences too.'

This comes after GP burnout expert Professor Clare Gerada claimed 'complaints kill doctors' last year, and called for more support for doctors facing a patient complaint.

Readers' comments (21)

  • Feedback is welcome but complaints should only be made about significant issues where harm has or may have occurred.

    There are also some issues that are systematic or practice related complaints and those that are complaints about an individual clinician. The latter can be devastating for clinicians and result in deterioration of mental health and effect ability to work.

    This advice to 'complain more' does not seem to reflect the variety of issues that a complaint may be about or acknowledge the harm that complaints can cause.

    If something significant has happened and there is cause to complain then this is expected and fine but if it is to feedback a general concern then this should be via another route rather than the complaints process.

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  • The beatings will continue.

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  • The system is against us. The worse thing is we are being forced to pay to shoot ourselves. To prevent complaints, prescribe as per clinical need even if it is OTC sticking to BMA guidance.

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  • Feedback certainly isn't welcome, it has all sorts of adverse effects that are only recently being recognised. The main issue is that it dehumanises people who should be accepted for who they are, warts and all. We have created an entire generation of obese smombies staring at the glow of a screen waiting for their next notification of a 'like'. Conversely, the internet blame and shout culture has been amplified to an unbearable cacophony of hatred that has reduced democracy and group working to a data gathering system to feed the algorithm beasts. We cannot go on like this. The NHS is short of 5000 GPs and appointment waiting times are growing. The government should allow us to become human once again.

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  • Complain to improve services is probably the worst way to go about this! Proper evaluation of services by Independent agencies, identifying needs and supporting the development of improvements.... maybe. Once a patient puts a complain that is it, we are at the mercy of whatever they write and unable to defend ourselves. Complain systems should be used for serious matters

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  • The GMC and CQC are manipulative in their handling of Doctors and why oh why are we the ones who pay for their existence !No one gets upset by complaints regarding negligence which has harmed a patient but the daily poisoning of the public against the medical profession causes much more harm than good. And chases us to an early retirement.

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  • So you want to be a doctor? Remember to err is human and we are human and we err.
    But complaints actually make you lose sleep and worry and anxious when you do your very best, because sometimes your very best is not good enough or deemed not good enough.
    I have not met a single doctor in 50 years who has not been devastated by a complaint.
    If this is what the CQC wishes and still has doctors long term, good luck.

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    Complain to whoever is actually responsible
    The Government / via MP
    The CCG

    CQC tells patients to complain about GP care to improve services

    GP'S complaining about CQC/GMC

    Looks like CQC would like more fuel with which to burn practices

    NHS CHOICES website complaints has been around for a long time. Good place for malicious feedback

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    Newsflash CQC
    Reduced funding
    Reduced quality service
    You cannot have your cake an eat it
    i.e. expect the service standards to remain high whilst funding and staff levels fall..

    oh well let the public scapegoat gps for government failings
    I blame austerity
    (stealth austerity in this country)

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  • Cobblers

    **News Flash**
    CQC research is not unbiased.

    Feedback perhaps but complaints are rarely without a negative impact especially on clinicians who can find them hurtful, depressing and demotivating.

    Another newsflash that NHSE can use a complaint to browbeat doctors. Although it is a promo the MPS have a video on how one crap complaint instigated a witch hunt.

    And then there is the establishment. How I hate the bland, anodyne, "We have taken on board the complaint", "We have made changes (not)", "The responsible people have undergone further training", "We welcome complaints".

    The complaints culture needs to be independantly re-examined. Even feedback gets on my tits.

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