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At the heart of general practice since 1960

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)

  • The fact that most of these cases did not get very far just reflects the increasingly risky world we work in now. Somehow we have encouraged a litigiousness culture which the government are probably complicit in - just see today's news about Mid-Staffs for a good example of a witch hunt.
    This is bad news for both doctors and patients who will be subject to increasingly defensive practice.
    The problem is people just want to take their complaints straight to the top so it's become a real them vs us situation. This is no way to practice medicine. How did we allow things to get in such a state?

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  • Daily Mail Scoop:

    "All GPs deemed unfit to practice! GMC strikes all off the list..."

    Go ahead, make my day PUNK! Do us all a favour?! I'd love to be a florist you know... ;)

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  • A colleague locally had a complaint that went straight to the GMC. It was made by a third party who complained about comments that were never made during a consultation that they weren't even present at! Additionally, the GMC redacted all patient details so it wasn't possible to see which patient it related to or if it went to the correct clinician.

    Bizarre in the extreme!

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  • The GMC is a doctors' club set up to support doctors without regard to patient care.

    The GMC let off incompetent doctors, but harass whistleblowers.

    You only have to look at the recent outcome with the GMC letting Mid Staffs doctors off scot free to see that.

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  • 17.46 Troll but here we go...
    Doctors form a minority on GMS MPTS panels so your assertion is clearly false.
    The issue regarding treatment of whistle-blowers remains unresolved in the medical profession. Government leadership on the issue has been weak at best.
    An alternative interpretation of the GMC investigation into Mid-Staffs staff is that there was no evidence of wrong doing. The press have grossly misrepresented the statistics regarding this investigation. Doctors are incredibly under-resourced for the work they undertake because we have one of the lowest number per capita in the western world and still spend a relatively low proportion of our GDP on health compared to our competitors. Most of my working day is a fire-fight. The current system is unlikely to be sustainable for much longer without some form of co-payment or insurance structure, so you can moan about NHS staff all you like because free at the point of delivery is coming to an end soon.

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  • To be fair,the Daily Mail voices what alot of people already think.

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  • "An alternative interpretation of the GMC investigation into Mid-Staffs staff is that there was no evidence of wrong doing. "

    .....

    Tell that to the families whose relatives died in Mid Staffs.


    "Doctors are incredibly under-resourced for the work they undertake because we have one of the lowest number per capita in the western world and still spend a relatively low proportion of our GDP on health compared to our competitors."

    Other countries spend proportionally far less on wages for doctors so can afford a greater number per capita while providing effective and affordable care.

    You forgot to mention that.

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  • >Tell that to the families whose relatives died in Mid Staffs.

    You seem to be implying that this is due to medical negligence (on the part of the doctors). Please present your evidence for this (and no, a transcription of what you read in the gutter press doesn't count).

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  • The inference is on your part.

    As the families' representative said:

    "We are bitterly disappointed. These clinicians were working as managers; they had responsibility for ensuring patients were safe and they failed – there is just no accountability in the NHS.

    “This was the biggest disaster in the history of the NHS – the greatest scandal and yet for all of the suffering, all of the misery that has been exposed, even a public inquiry, those who presided of it are not asked to take any responsibility.”

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  • 'Tell that to the families whose relatives died in Mid Staffs.'
    It may be a bitter pill to swallow but there is not always someone to blame for everything. This is an immature view of a complex world.
    'and yet for all of the suffering, all of the misery that has been exposed, even a public inquiry, those who presided of it are not asked to take any responsibility'
    This is probably because it was no-one's fault. You can't just hang someone out to dry for the sake of it, due process of the law is there for a reason. People generally die because they are old, frail and sick, we just simply don't have the resources to keep everyone alive until they reach 100y old.
    'Other countries spend proportionally far less on wages for doctors so can afford a greater number per capita while providing effective and affordable care. '
    False again, the USA spends far more. Countries like Germany and France have much lower costs of living and lower deductions for essentials such as medical defense. Medical wages were in fact manipulated down by the creation of the NHS. We are now in a globalized market for medical staff and parts of the UK already cannot recruit due to failure to offer good terms. Personally I can't wait to be paid free market rates.

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