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CAMHS won't see you now

Number of fitness to practise complaints rises by nearly a fifth

The number of enquiries sent to the GMC about doctors’ fitness to practise rose by 18% in 2012 compared with the previous year, with GPs one of the groups most likely to face a complaint.

The annual fitness to practise statistics report from the GMC reveals that the number of complaints received by the GMC about doctors’ fitness to practise rose to 10,347 in 2012.

But two-thirds of these complaints were immediately closed by the regulator at triage, meaning they did not meet the threshold for an investigation.

GPs, psychiatrists, and surgeons were more likely to be the subject of a complaint than their peers, as were doctors who are male, from a black or minority ethnic background, those who qualified more than 20 years ago, or qualified outside the EU.

For most of these groups the report found a higher likelihood of a full investigation or a serious outcome to the complaint, but this was not true of GPs, psychiatrists, or those who qualified more than 20 years ago.

The report said: ‘The total number of enquiries we receive has continued to rise.

‘The proportion of enquiries closed at triage continues to increase, in 2012 we closed 60% of enquiries at triage, up from 56% in 2011. This continues the trend seen in previous years.’

The report added that cases promoted at triage were more likely to go into ‘stream one’, meaning they contain allegations that would suggest potential impairment of a doctor’s fitness to practise, than in 2011. There were 2,708 new stream one cases in 2012, an increase of 16% on 2011. The number of less serious stream two investigations fell by 9% to 1,400.

However, the report found that the actual number of fitness to practise hearings fell from 232 in 2011 to 208 in 2012, and the total number of doctors erased or suspended fell in 2012 to 55 and 64 respectively (from 93 and 65 in 2011).

The news comes as the GMC predicts rising numbers of fitness to practise cases in 2013, and has set aside an extra £4.7million compared to the 2013 budget.


Readers' comments (46)

  • No the balance of power definitely lies with the patient which is why doctors make up such a small minority of GMC panels. There is an increasing mentality of ingratitude these days towards people who are genuinely trying to help them. Just go down to A+E on Friday night for the evidence. People who use complaint as a form of aggression towards the system are treating doctors with utter contempt and a lack of respect for the efforts they put in. We are fed up with being asked to jump through ever higher hoops NHS managers with constant risk to our careers. However, the worm is beginning to turn in the NHS. When it's gone it's gone.

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  • Anon 1.56 - you are deluded and in the wrong job.

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  • 1.56 Resorting to personal insults adds nothing to this debate.

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  • 1.56pm
    I share your anger at the contempt that we are shown. However the majority of people repect and value the service we put in. My patient feedback is very good but I always get an odd one that seems out of order. There is a proportion of people out there that will attack public services; there is also a proportion of terrible doctors. Some excellent drs are burning out due to our NHS system, some patients are let down by the same service. The majority do not understand the difficulties but are persuaded by the government to expect champagne, but pay lemonade prices. They don't have to understand it - they pay for it. Inevitably the disparity of what's on offer and what's expected collides.
    The red tops would not publish stories from my work today because I haven't failed to misdiagnose an obvious disease that the journalist would be able to. I haven't defrauded my partners or slept with one of my patients, I've been negligent in my newsworthiness by acting professionally and taking all that the patients and the CCG and DH can throw at me. Most of our activity is complex but essentially dull to all those except the patient. In summary don't get angry, 99%+ of the time patients are ok gratetful.

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  • No agression or contempt in my complaint (for the GP anyway), but plenty for the sad, incompetent psychotherapist I was seen by, who cannot read referral letters (it was addressed to the psychiatrist - e.g a doctor) and has the ego to take on referrals she "does not have the full range of skills to undertake"

    In addition, the clinical administration was unacceptable, and is not aware of NICE guidelines - shambles doesn't even cover it.

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  • @ 5.12 pm I am sorry to hear of your experience. It sounds very distressing and you have been unfortunate. I hope you've been able to resolve the issue - perhaps by discussing it with the hospital or your GP.

    Most of us strive for the best for our patients with limited resources in the NHS - time, staff and systems. We worry that we will lose the NHS and also that GPs will leave because of how we're being treated by the Government and the Press. The papers are not even interested; all we get is blame. We need support or many of us will leave and there simply won't be enough doctors.

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  • I think this is why politicians say, "I can't discuss individual cases." i.e. they don't know the whole truth.

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  • If you want truth then we need to address the culture of fear that all health workers are subject to. It may be possible for a doctor to lose his or her life through saying too much.

    Why are 1 in 25 doctors dying during fitness to practise investigations? This is not China but the UK. Some may be unfit to practise but others have only spoken out. Sign the petition to ask why:

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  • Anon 10.47 - Happy to sign this petition. Also grateful to Anon 9.52 for kind comments. I am not blaming GPs, but there are some managers, a chief executive and psychotherapist that I would like to personally throttle. Please don't bring up the issue of suicide - as a patient I've come too close to it.

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  • I keep seeing these figures of "unnecessary deaths" as if they had been researched individually as such. As far as I understand it these figures are the difference between the actual deaths and someones estimate of how many deaths there should have been. That is a totally different kettle of fish.

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