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17-09-2012 | General practice | Article

GMC complaints hit record high


General Medical Council Report - The state of medical education and practice in the UK: 2012

medwireNews: The GMC received the highest ever number of complaints in 2011, with nearly half being lodged against GPs, according to a report out today.

The report, The state of medical education and practice in the UK: 2012, reveals that there were 8,731 complaints in 2011, up 23% from the total of 7,153 the previous year.

GPs attracted 47% of the complaints, despite making up only 24% of the register. Nevertheless, the report points out: "This is not surprising given the large number

of interactions GPs have with their patients."

As in the past, most complaints were received from the public, although there was also an increase, albeit smaller, in the number of complaints from medical directors and other officials, the GMC said.

The regulator also highlighted that there was a significant increase in complaints about interactions, with allegations about communication up by 69% and about lack of respect by 45%.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, stressed that while it is important to explore the reasons behind the rise in complaints, the findings do not mean standards of medical practice are falling.

"Every day there are millions of interactions between doctors and patients and all the evidence suggests that public trust and confidence in the UK's doctors remains extremely high," he noted.

BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter said: "It is a good thing that patients feel more empowered to raise their concerns but it is important that there is further research to find out why there has been an increase and the nature of the complaints being made.

"Even though medical standards remain high and the number of complaints is very small, compared to the millions of consultations every year, we should always strive to find ways of improving the quality of care."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price