Figures released by the General Medical Council have shown that complaints against doctors have doubled in the past 5 years. In 2012 over 8100 complaints were made compared with under 4000 in 2007. It is estimated that around a third of complaints led to a full investigation by the GMC. The majority of complaints came from patients but only a fifth were within the GMC’s scope to investigate. The GMC has raised concerns that it is often not clear to whom a patient should complain and that more needs to be done to help patients raise issues.
Despite the increase, it is still thought that over half the people who experienced a problem failed to report it.
We have recently seen a lot of high profile investigations such as the Mid Staffordshire inquiry which may have made the public more aware that they can make a complaint if they have concerns about the care they have received.
All GP surgeries and hospitals will have a complaints procedure. Patients can ask for a copy and there is often a copy on the hospital or surgery website. It is always preferable to make a complaint in writing although it can be raised verbally with the complaints manager. All hospitals also have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who can offer support.
Complaints should be made as soon as possible after the treatment that you are concerned about. The Hospital Trust or GP surgery will investigate and should respond in writing to your complaint. It is also quite common for the hospital or surgery to offer a meeting with the staff involved. This is a good opportunity to discuss the matter in more detail. If the complaint is not dealt with by the hospital or surgery then a complaint can be made to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. However, the Ombudsman will only get involved if the complaints procedure has been exhausted.
If you have any concerns in relation to a complaint you have made, or if you are unsure about making a complaint, please do not hesitate to contact us.