Complaints about doctors have hit a record high with patients more prepared to raise concerns about their treatment, a General Medical Council (GMC) report has found.
Since 2009, the number of complaints has soared - and in the last year alone there has been a 23% increase in the number of grievances lodged against doctors, figures suggest.
Grievances were mostly about treatment plans and investigation skills, but there was also a large number of objections about the respect for patients.
The number of allegations about doctors' communicating skills have risen by 69% in the last year and complaints about lack of respect rose by 45%.
Almost three quarters of all complaints made were about male doctors and 47% were made about GPs.
The highest number of accusations were made about about men and older doctors, according to the GMC report.
Psychiatrists, GPs and surgeons also attracted the highest level of complaints compared with other specialities.
Last year 8,781 complaints were made compared to 7,153 in 2010, according to the GMC. One in every 64 doctors is likely to be investigated by the regulator.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC), has said that the rise in complaints does not mean necessarily that medical standards are falling.
However, the GMC believes that the following factors could be contributing to the rise in complaints:
- Patients are now more willing to complain about discrepancies than they were in the past.
- Patients have greater expectations of the doctors.
- Within the profession there is less tolerance for poor practice.
- There is better monitoring of medical practic.
- More information is available for patients in the digital age.
- Doctors are more willing to speak out and less willing to tolerate behaviour.
The GMC has said it is introducing a series of measures to deal with the rising number of complaints.
They include an induction programme for doctors who are new to the medical register, new guides on good medical practice for both doctors and patients and a new helpline for doctors.