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GPs receive too few complaints, suggests CQC

GP practices should do more to ‘welcome concerns’ from patients, the CQC has said, after a review found that there are ‘no or very low numbers of complaints’ made against them.

Commenting on preliminary data from CQC inspections of GP practices the CQC said providers report that ‘they receive very few complaints’.

However instead of concluding that this meant the service was good, the CQC said it indicated ‘a variation in the provision of awareness of advocacy and suport to assist people who wanted to complain’.

In a report published today, the CQC said: ‘Many adult social care and GP practice inspectors felt that they did not have enough evidence to answer the questions, often because the locations inspected had received no or very low numbers of complaints.

‘Where inspectors could provide an answer, it was generally positive about how providers were handling complaints. However, the responses did indicate variation in the provision and awareness of advocacy and support to assist people who wanted to complain.’

It added: ‘Many… providers report that they receive very few complaints; and so this suggests more could be done to encourage an open culture where concerns are welcomed.’

Under the new CQC inspection regime, patients will be interviewed about how they think their practice handles complaints. Inspectors will also be reviewing samples of complaints files to see how they were dealt with. Reported complaints will also prioritise practices for inspection under the CQC’s new ‘intelligent monitoring’ system.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the CQC’s report showed this ‘crucial part’ of the CQC’s ‘tough, independent inspection regime’ showed there was more to do with regards to complaints.

He said: ‘As part of our drive to confront poor care we’re making sure people know how to complain and transforming complaints handling – now a crucial part of the CQC’s tough, independent inspection regime. Today’s report shows both that that progress has been made and that there’s still more to do.’

The news comes as it was revealed today that the CQC is overhauling its ‘intelligent monitoring’ tool for risk rating GP practices after admitting its methodology was inaccurate.