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Complaints against GPs up by 8.2%

Complaints against GPs in England increased by 8.2% from 2010/11 to 2011/12, official figures have shown.

A new report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed there were 54,870 written complaints against general practice (including dental) health services in 2011/12 compared with 43,942 in 2007/08.

The majority of complaints were around clinical issues, which attracted 19,336 complaints in 2010/11, 35.4% of the total.

Communication and attitude attracted the second highest number of complaints, with 11,650, 21.7% of the total. This was followed by general practice administration, with 9,924 complaints, some 18.5% of the total.

The figures showed that 33.8% of complaints were upheld.

But the HSCIC said comparison of 2010-11 and 2011-12 figures for general practice could be partially affected by some PCTs reporting incomplete data in either year.

For hospitals, there was a decrease in written complaints of just over 2% (from 98,200 to 96,000) if taking into account hospital trusts who submitted data in both years.

Earlier this month, the Medical Defence Union published new figures which showed that disciplinary cases against GPs and hospital doctors increased by 56% in 2011, claiming the challenges were‘unmatched in the company's 126-year history.'

Dr Barry Moyse, secretary of Somerset LMC, said he felt the increase was symptomatic of general practice being seen as more of a ‘consumer commodity'.

He said: ‘My feeling is that we live in a consumer society where we are encouraged to complain. General practice is looked upon increasingly as a consumer commodity. Governments have encouraged that view. Therefore it is no surprise that people should come forward more often.

‘As an LMC, we appreciate that colleagues do find complaints upsetting. It challenges our sense of worth.

But he added: ‘It is always good, if someone is unhappy, that they discuss it openly. It can help us improve and we should try and look at them in a positive light to see if we can learn from them.'