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GMC chief: 'We need to learn' from complaints rise

General Medical Council Chief Executive Niall Dickson told ITV News:

Today there will be something like a million interactions between general practice and patients - so you are talking about a very small number relative to the huge number of interactions that there are every day.

It doesn't mean that we should ignore this number of complaints.

We need to learn from it and learn, for example, what areas or what stages of a doctor's career they may be more vulnerable to complaints and where additional support can be given in order for doctors to provide better care.

– General Medical Council CEO NIALL DICKSON


NHS Confederation calls for 'careful eye' on complaints

We must keep a careful eye on these complaints. A rise may partly be a result of patients rightly being more assertive in voicing dissatisfaction about their care, or it may be something more substantial.

Employers and individual doctors need to analyse this data and look carefully at the cases where doctors have not met the standards patients expect, and what action they need to take when they fall short.

Every patient should be given the necessary time to discuss healthcare concerns which can often be complex and upsetting.

Worryingly, these figures suggest that this is not always the case."

– NHS Confederation CEO Mike Farrar

Labour spokesman: NHS 'heading in wrong direction'

Labour's Shadow Health Minister has claimed patients are being hit by the Government's "mismanagement of the NHS" after a General Medical Council report concluded complaints against doctors rose 23 percent in the last year.

The Government cannot brush this aside - patients are clearly being hit by their mismanagement of the NHS.

Ministers lost a grip on NHS finances and we are seeing increasingly crude cost cutting measures.

GPs are now being offered financial incentives to cut the number of referrals and patients face a growing list of banned or rationed treatments.

It's no surprise that people are angry.

Yesterday's British Social Attitudes survey reported a nosedive in public satisfaction with the NHS - falling for the first time in a decade.

Today's figures will only add to concerns about a health service heading in the wrong direction under this out of touch Government.

– Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed

Department of Health 'working towards a safer system'

We agree that patients should be able to access expert services seven days a week and they have a right to expect the same level of care on a Saturday or Sunday as they do on a Wednesday.

Not only would this mean better, safer and more consistent care and treatment, it will also mean better support for junior doctors.

We are taking action and working with professional associations to drive this forward across the NHS.

Patients need to know that doctors have the right language skills and we are already working with the GMC to develop a stronger, safer system.

The European Commission is also reviewing the laws affecting this and looking at how regulators like the GMC can play a stronger role.

– Department of Health spokesperson


Health Minister: 'Medical standards remain high'

The Government is committed to giving patients a stronger voice in the NHS, so that people have a greater say in where and by whom they are treated and importantly to ensure the NHS learns and improves from mistakes when things have gone wrong.

The GMC is rightly taking steps to better understand and deal with an increase in complaints, but it is important to reassure people that this does not mean that medical standards are falling and complaints to the GMC are not always directly related quality of front line patient care.

– Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter

GMC chief: 'Confidence in doctors remains extremely high despite complaints'

We are investing more in this area and we are rolling out a package of measures both to protect patients and provide greater support for doctors during the course of their careers.

While we do need to develop a better understanding of why complaints to us are rising, we do not believe it reflects falling standards of medical practice.

Every day there are millions of interactions between doctors and patients and all the evidence suggests that public trust and confidence in the UK's doctors remains extremely high.

– Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC)
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