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Independents' Day

Relatives threaten my staff but GMC doesn't defend us

There is something fundamentally wrong about the complaints procedure. Patients, their relatives, carers and friends can complain about GPs and their staff without fear of comeback even if the complaint is vexatious.

Last year my practice suffered persecution at the hands of the relatives of a delightful old man who had been my patient for 18 years. I had no quarrel with my patient, but when the relatives began threatening my staff on a daily basis over the telephone I felt I had to take action.

I contacted the PCT but it had no advice for me. In order to protect my staff I was obliged to remove the patient from my list.

My action caused the relatives to appear in person at the reception window to continue to make threats against my staff.

Only when the abusers were threatened with arrest and an injunction did the harassment cease.

Some weeks later the chief executive informed me the matter of making a complaint against a patient, relative or carer had been brought up at the PCT annual conference where it was decided that the legislation did not cover this eventuality. I could not make a complaint.

I passed this information to my MP who in turn wrote to John Denham who in turn acquiesced with their decision. My MP has raised the matter with the Health Minister but so far no joy. He asked me to raise the matter with the GMC ­ and I did ­ but again no joy.

Where are our leaders? Do they only speak out when they have retired? Perhaps we should lobby for the ending of the GMC's monopoly ­ then it might start speaking up for us.

Dr B Newgrosh


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