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Understanding the rise in fitness to practise complaints from members of the public

What were the key findings?

The relatively uniform nature of the increase across the UK, and the fact that similar trends have been witnessed by other complaints receiving bodies, suggests that at least part of the explanation lies in wider social developments.

These developments have, though, interacted with factors specific to the GMC and to the healthcare system.

  • The volume of complaints we received is greater than for comparable bodies.
  • We receive considerable media and political attention, as does healthcare in general and issues involving individual doctors.
  • As a long-standing body with high name recognition in a changing healthcare landscape, we attract complaints.
  • This is particularly the case given apparent confusion among some of the public regarding the wider healthcare complaints system and the limitations of our role.
  • Such healthcare specific factors have interacted with broader social developments, including less deferential attitudes amongst patients who have increased access to information through the internet.

Why did we commission this research?

In recent years we have experienced a considerable rise in the volume of fitness to practise complaints we get about doctors. Complaints from the public constitute the majority of the complaints we get. This research, together with earlier work commissioned to investigate the rise in complaints received from people acting in a public capacity, will help us understand and respond to this trend.

What did the research involve?

The research comprised a mixed-methods approach involving statistical analysis of our fitness to practise data, media analysis (quantitative and qualitative), a literature review and interviews with a small number of key individuals.

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Understanding the rise in fitness to practise complaints from members of the public.