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Why are more people in the UK complaining about their doctors?
Date:7/20/2014

The report "Understanding the Rise in Fitness to Practise Complaints from Members of the General Public" is published today.

An increase in complaints has been seen across the UK, which suggests wider social trends rather than localised issues. A large number of complaints did not progress because the issues raised could not be identified, which suggests that the GMC is receiving complaints outside its remit. According to the report, this points towards problems with the wider complaint-handling system and culture.

While the report does not point to any specific causes for the increase in complaints, it does clearly identify a number of trends which have contributed to an environment in which the public are more prone to making complaints about their doctors.

Clinical care remains the largest source of complaints, but there has been a significant increase in complaints about doctor-patient communication: this highlights the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.

The report identified that the media has a role to play in the increase in complaints. While there was no direct link between media coverage of high profile medical cases and spikes in complaint traffic, the authors of the report suggest that media portrayals of both the GMC and the medical profession may influence how and why complaints are made.

This may be due to the GMC's own success in raising its profile, but the report shows that name recognition and having a basic understanding that the GMC 'has something to do with doctors' does not result in a wider understanding of the GMC's remit which may in turn have resulted in the number of complaints that could not be pursued because it was not the GMC's job to do so.

While the reputation of the medical profession remains positive overall, the report identifies that negative press coverage may be 'chipping away' at this reputation and resulting in an increased number of people making 'me t
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Contact: Andrew Gould
andrew.gould@plymouth.ac.uk
University of Plymouth
Source:Eurekalert

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