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The King of Complaints


There’s a spring in my step today. And that’s because I’m happy, an adjective not usually associated with a day in general practice – particularly when you get to my age and have that ‘been there, done that’, mentality.

Nowadays, very little surprises or excites me about my work, and I have come to accept that my attempts to secure immortality by coining ‘Copperfield syndrome’  (the tendency for patient requiring amitriptyline to respond to an explanation of the side effects of dizziness and dry mouth by responding, ‘I get that already’) are unlikely to gain traction.

So all that awaits me is the treadmill grinding to a superannuated halt or a cardiac event intervening.

Until today. Because today, something marvellous happened. Something that marks me out, that in some strange way elevates me. For I, Dr Copperfield, am a record breaker. I’m sure of it.

Today, I received a complaint from a patient. Big deal. Except that it was 100 (one hundred) pages long

To properly convey this, I’m going to have to adopt a syntactical quirk associated with (for those of you old enough to remember) the teleprinter which used to transmit the football results on TV on a Saturday afternoon, when the score was too high to be credible. So here we go.

Today, I received a complaint from a patient. Big deal. Except that it was 100 (one hundred) pages long. That’s right, 100 (one hundred). This isn’t a joke or a cheat. This really happened, literally, in my actual life, today. And no, it wasn’t scrawled in massive green ink or presented in Comic Sans 72 font. It was conventionally typed up on A4. A complaint, 100 (one hundred) pages long.

This is marvellous. I firmly believe my entire 31-year career as a GP has been working towards this point, and I feel honoured and proud. I’d frame and hang it, if only I had the wall space of Tate Modern.

I defy any of you out there to trump this. In fact, I’ve already emailed the editorial team of the Guinness Book of Records and, unofficial though it may be, I believe I can stand before you as the true King of Complaints.

Obviously, I have responded to the patient within the statutory timeframe and asked for more detail.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield

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Readers' comments (31)

  • Sounds like someone has a lot to say, or perhaps many ways of saying exactly the same time. The pleasure you can have is in realising how much time they must have invested/wasted in writing that complaint. The drawback is all that time you have to invest in reading that exact complaint and then respond to each point set out within it. Wasting even more time. I believe an extension of the responding time may well be in order.
    Makes me wonder what the patient's gripe was to warrant such a work of 'art'.

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  • Refer them urgently to his/her local MPs surgery
    for advise perhaps ?

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  • Congratulations! You have to invest in good colourful markers to highlight the points so you can respond in your own sweet time. Ask for plenty of time to respond. Don’t forget to reply in similar way- a 100 page reply!

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  • Congrats! You really are the King of Complaints. Standing proud among GPs. I wonder how a one liner reply just for contrast and irony like: "Thank you for your letter, I am referring you to psychiatry after consulting many other GPs' opinions".

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Some years ago, a PCT "mediator" visited me re a rather vexatious complaint. When he visited the patient, one entire wall of their living room was covered in bookshelves bearing bound copies of notes he had made of every single encounter with anyone from "authority", be it local government, doctor etc. Truly bonkers.

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  • I bet the patient found out that the practice wasn’t displaying a valid Display Energy Certificate..

    You bad boy you..

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  • Now seriously.. you haven’t told us who the patient has dobbed you in to...

    If they’ve shared this crap with the GMC
    .. you are dead!

    If they’ve shared it with NHS England they will give you four days to compose your response using a template that generously paraphrases the worst of the patients moans and asks you why you treated the darling as you did. Sign it and scan it in. You then have to email submit your prompt response to NHSE, addressed to the patient name... NHSE will then digest your response and hopefully send same out to patient ..
    Anyway you are probably dead.. no kidding!
    Here resteth the King if Complaints

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  • If there is a practice graded exceptional by CQC locally that's always an easy offload :)

    "this place is good, but you deserve exceptional"

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  • I had a complaint sent to the gmc by a patients mother that was in a ring binder with print outs of NHS guidance and references galore. It possibly out did this.
    Yes I am a psychiatrist.
    The patient is mentally not well or has a personality disorder.

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  • My record is 66 pages and 3 appendices but you have outdone me. I doff my cap, sir!

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