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Fitness to practise complaints up a third, GMC reveals

Fitness to practise complaints to the GMC have risen by almost a third since 2004 with eight in 10 PCTs seeing GPs and pharmacists blow the whistle on malpractice, the GMC has revealed.

A new GMC report revealed that fitness to practice cases are up 30% since 2004. Additional questionnaires and interviews with over 100 NHS medical directors showed that 79% of PCT medical directors had received complaints about poor clinical standards from GPs or other independent contractors like community pharmacists.

A third of PCT medical directors (30%) said that the police were involved in complaints against doctors, compared with 5% at foundation trusts and none at other NHS trusts.

The GMC dismissed that the rise indicated ‘slipping standards' of healthcare. Instead the regulator said its spiralling caseload indicated an ‘increased management ethos' in the NHS. The culture meant NHS managers, patients and doctors felt more able to blow the whistle on poor practise, the regulator said.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said that complaints by GPs could increase as the ‘peer pressure' on doctors to report on colleagues intensifies under clinical commissioning groups.

‘Some of the peer pressure issues, for doctors to report on colleagues, will remain pretty much as now. You could argue that actually being brought together might increase that as GPs become concerned that it's "our institution together that is going to be affected by this."'

‘Within clinical commissioning groups there may be concerns that somebody is doing something slightly odd in terms of referrals – you could argue that might increase [complaints to the GMC].

'We need to make sure that whatever [clinical governance] system goes forward needs to support general practice but is also local enough that you understand if a practice is going wrong or there are issues with an individual's practise.'