A new report has revealed that the number of complaints to the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK has increased by 23% in the past year. The figures in the GMC report exposed that from 7,153 complaints received in 2010, the number of complaints in 2011 had increased to 8,781. The latest figures indicate a worrying trend in grievances against doctors – overall the number of complaints to the governing body has risen by 69% in the past three years.
The report further showed that there has also been an increase over the past year in the number of doctors who were investigated by the GMC, with 2330 doctors being subject to a full investigation – leading to further action in more than 500 cases, and 65 doctors being struck off the GMC register.
Following the announcement of the latest figures, the GMC were quick to comment that the figures did not necessarily signpost falls in the level of care; affirming instead that the increase in complaints were attributable to patients increased willingness to complain and greater expectations of medical professionals.
A breakdown of the figures from the report show that the most complained about aspect of doctors’ work was the standard of care and treatment – indicating that a significant number of patients felt that they received poor or substandard treatment being provided. The types of complaint that could fall into this bracket are misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, injuries sustained from treatment and mistakes during surgery – all errors that can have severe implications on patients.
Despite the GMC’s affirmations, this dramatic increase in complaints clearly raise concerns in relation to the care and treatment provided to patients by doctors. This is especially the case when the figures are viewed alongside other recent reports, which show dramatic increases in the amount of medical negligence compensation paid out to patients by the NHS over recent years.
By Des Draper, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Farleys Solicitors LLP.
About the Author
Farleys Solicitors is a leading full-practice firm of solicitors in Lancashire and Manchester. They offer no win no fee advice on clinical negligence and personal injury claims throughout England and Wales.