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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Ombudsman to triple investigations of GPs

GPs have accused the health service ombudsman of piling stress on the profession after she revealed plans to triple the number of complaints her office investigates.

Under the policy change, the ombudsman will scrap initial screening of cases and start formal investigation much earlier.

Ombudsman Ann Abraham said she wanted to show work done during the preliminary stage because some patients had been unhappy when told their complaint did not merit formal investigation.

The policy is being piloted for six months in Wales and will be extended to England if it is deemed a success.

But the GPC said GPs would suffer increased stress simply to enable the ombudsman to improve 'public perception' of her work.

Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of GPC Wales, said the changes were introduced without consultation and could cause some GPs to quit the profession. 'The ombudsman is wasting time, effort and energy investigating cases that previously they would not have taken further,' he said.

'They are producing a lot of anxiety and worry among GPs and the only thing that will improve is a public perception.'

Carl Gehler, investigating officer at the ombudsman's Cardiff office, said the new system could reduce the number of cases requiring visits to practices and interviews with GPs. He said: 'Our intention was to give GPs and trusts an opportunity to respond earlier.'

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