More doctors raise concerns about colleagues

AN increasing number of doctors are raising concerns about their colleagues, according to a new General Medical Council report.

Complaints from individual doctors accounted for 10 per cent of all those received by the regulator in 2012. The GMC said this highlights “a welcome change of culture in the medical profession where doctors are more willing to raise concerns about poor medical practice.”

The findings were revealed in the third annual State of Medical Education and Practice report which offers an overview of the UK medical profession and identifies major trends and challenges.

The GMC received 8,109 complaints last year, a rise of 24 per cent since 2011 and an increase of more than 100 per cent since 2007.

But the regulator moved to allay concerns about the trend. A spokesman said: “The increase in complaints does not mean that standards of medical practice are falling. The report argues that higher patient expectations and greater willingness of other doctors to raise concerns could account for the rise.”

Of the 2,673 fully investigated GMC complaints, 1,169 closed with no further action, 448 closed with advice given to the doctor and 170 resulted in a sanction/warning.

Most complaints (62 per cent) came from the public but only one in five of these (989) led to a full investigation. In contrast, complaints from within the profession were far more likely to be probed further. Of the complaints made by doctors, 48 per cent were fully investigated while 84 per cent of those made by employers were investigated.

The most common complaints from doctors related to issues of probity, such as criminal convictions or conflicts of interest, while most complaints from the public, employers and the GMC were about clinical care. More than half of all complaints (54 per cent) were about clinical care, often combined with issues around communication with patients.

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