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Shipman Inquiry demands for a 'single portal' through which patients would direct all complaints about NHS services would be even worse than the current system, GPs believe.

In her fifth report, Shipman Inquiry chair Dame Janet Smith recommended the system, saying it should become as well known as NHS Direct.

Dr Brian Crichton, a GP in Solihull, West Midlands, said it would be better for patients and GPs for complaints to come to practices first. He said: 'These external bodies will create unnecessary worry. I'd prefer to have complaints directed towards us ­ then we would have some control.'

Dr Terry McCormack, a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said the new body would end up dealing with a 'mountain of minor complaints'.

He added: 'One of the dangers is that patients would be loath to make complaints. If they were forced to take complaints to a central body, that might be viewed as too authoritarian. Someone should ask patients what they think.'

GPs' view was backed by the Healthcare Commission.

Marcia Fry, head of operational development, said bringing in a single portal would require 'wholesale reform'. Instead she argued for 'clear jurisdiction' between the existing bodies to avoid several organisations 'crawling over the same complaint'.

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