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2,000 fewer complaints against GPs last year

The rising number of complaints against GPs in England may have been reversed, suggest new NHS figures published today.

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) indicate written complaints reported by PCTs for 2012/13 totalled 52,703 in 2012/13, compared with 54,870 in 2011/12.

The figures reverse an 8% rise in complaints against GPs last year, but the HSCIC did say that the 2,170 fewer complaints – which would represent a 4% year-on-year decline – could also be because of incomplete data returns from PCTs.

Most patients complained over issues with medical services, with 27,711 complaints, followed by general practice administration which received 13,933 complaints.

When including all written complaints against the NHS, including Foundation Trusts, the number was static year-on-year at around 162,000 for 2012/13, but this came after yearly rises five years running from being recorded at only 131,000 in 2007/08.

But the HSCIC stressed that a higher number of complaints may not indicate bad practise: ‘Caution should be taken when interpreting the basic quantitative data. An organisation that has good publicity, that welcomes complaints as an opportunity to learn and to improve services, and that has a non-defensive approach in responding to complaints may be expected to receive a higher number of complaints than an organisation with poor publicity and a defensive approach in responding. Yet one might also expect its services to be of a higher quality.’