UK & World News
Doctor Complaints Rise By 23% In A Year
Complaints about doctors have soared by 23% in just 12 months to hit a record high, according to new figures.
The General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctors, recorded 8,781 complaints last year compared to 7,153 in 2010.
Allegations about doctors' communicating skills rose by 69% over the year and complaints about lack of respect rose by 45%.
One in every 64 doctors is now likely to be investigated by the regulator.
The highest number of accusations were made about men and older doctors, according to the GMC report.
Psychiatrists, GPs and surgeons attracted the highest level of complaints.
Almost three quarters of all complaints made were about male doctors and 47% were made about GPs.
Grievances were mostly about treatment plans and investigation skills, but there was also a large number of objections about effective communication and respect for patients.
The GMC said complaints about doctors were increasing around the globe, not just in the UK.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said the rise in complaints does not mean necessarily that medical standards are falling.
The explanation could lie in other areas, such as the fact that patients are more confident about complaining than in the past and have less tolerance for failings.
Mr Dickson said: "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."
The GMC said it was tackling the rise in complaints with measures including an induction programme for new doctors.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the British Medical Association (BMA), 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."
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "A rise may partly be a result of patients rightly being more assertive in voicing dissatisfaction about their care, or it may be something more substantial."