There were 7% fewer complaints were received about doctors in 2015 than 2014, the GMC’s annual ‘The state of medical education and practice in the UK’ report has revealed.
The GMC argues that revalidation underpins low numbers of complaints, with the introduction of the report stating that the ‘vast majority of doctors are not complained about to the GMC, and the introduction of revalidation has underpinned this.’
GPs were more likely to be complained about than other doctors, with 5% of GPs complained about in 2015.
Of the complaints received by the GMC in 2015 about all doctors, 65.5% were closed without any form of investigation, 27% were investigated and 6.8% sent back to employers for further examination.
Doctors aged 50 and over and male doctors were more likely to receive complaints. In addition, international medical graduates and BME doctors were more likely to receive complaints and GMC sanctions or warnings.
The report also details the number of doctors practising, and reveals that the GP register has not grown as much as the specialist register over the last four years – the number of the doctors on the specialist register increased by 21%, those on the GP register increased by 8%.
The report also revealed the changing demographics of the medical profession, which is becoming more ethnically diverse.
There was an 18% increase in the number of GPs defining themselves as black or minority ethnic (BME) between 2011 and 2015 (total GP numbers increased by 2% during this time).
Medicine also seems to be getting older, with 39% of GPs aged 50 and above. However, the report says that the trend for an older workforce ‘is not necessary negative and may reflect people living and working longer’.
Although it admits that ‘in some specialties it does appear that, as the number of doctors in the specialty declines, the remaining doctors tend to be older.’
The report summarises evidence from other sources that there is an increase in part-time working among doctors, with GPs more likely to be working part-time than other specialities.
The introduction to the report highlights the ‘strong contributions made from both UK and overseas doctors in every part of our healthcare service.’
However fewer doctors from abroad are coming to work in the UK, with 10% fewer international medical graduates licensed to practise in the UK in 2015 compared to 2011.
The report also shows that the UK is lacking in doctors – out of European countries, the UK has the fifth smallest number of doctors per 1,000 people (2.7).