GP practices will not be required to submit data on patient complaints this year to free them up to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
NHS Digital’s decision to scrap the collection of KO41b complaint data for 2019/20 follows calls from NHS leaders to spare practices the additional workload.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘After extensive lobbying, we’re pleased to see that NHS Digital has confirmed that the annual complaints data collection relating to 2019/20 will not be collected as usual.
‘At a time when GPs, like all other healthcare professionals, are going above and beyond in the fight against Covid-19, it’s important that we’re able to focus on providing as much care as possible without being bogged down with unnecessary bureaucratic processes.’
He added: ‘Of course, complaints from patients will still be responded to by practices who will do all they can to resolve and learn from the issues and concerns raised.’
NHS Digital said it will use this gap as an opportunity to ‘streamline’ its process for May/June 2021, ‘to ensure that the approach and information requested is proportionate and removes unnecessary administrative burdens from the collection’.
It added that it would like practice managers to get in touch to ‘help with developing the content and approach’.
According to the 2018/19 collection, primary care received 92,677 complaints from patients, while altogether, the NHS received 208,924.
It comes as medico-legal experts have warned that the rise of remote consultations in general practice during the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the risk of patient complaints.
It also comes as the GMC has said it will take the ‘unpredictable circumstances’ of the Covid-19 pandemic into account when investigating doctors’ fitness to practise.
A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice.