Why do many public concerns that would be better directed to another organisation come to the GMC?

What were the key findings?

  • Most people who want to complain about a doctor don’t know what to do first and will search online using websites such as Citizens Advice or NHS England.
  • Many people try to raise their concern locally, with the GP practice or hospital where it happened. However, if they have a negative experience or are led to distrust a local investigation, they will seek out an organisation, like the GMC, to take their concern seriously.
  • People who complain directly to the GMC first were usually aware of the GMC already, having previously worked in the health sector etc. They reported they were looking for an easy way to raise a concern and often skipped passed information about whether the GMC was the right place, in favour of speaking to someone directly.
  • The research identified four underlying ‘key reasons why’ ease and trust are important to individuals and how these key reasons will drive where the public raise concerns.
    1. I want my concerns to be heard and taken seriously
    2. I want to know why what had happened, happened
    3. I want to prevent this happening again to someone else
    4. I want the best care for me now (individuals with ongoing healthcare needs wanted the best care immediately, which often meant not interacting with the same doctor again).
  • These four key ‘whys’ could be used to help direct patients to the correct place first time.
  • There is a perception that the GMC has powers to make a doctor ‘stop and think’ or restrict their practice altogether.

Why did we commission this research?

This independent research was commissioned to help us understand why patients and the public may make a complaint about a doctor to the GMC, as opposed to, or in addition to, other organisations within the complaints landscape.

What did the research involve?

The research was delivered by an independent research consultancy, ICE Creates Ltd, and included workshops with GMC team members, workshops with members of the general public who have not previously complained to the GMC, in-depth interviews with individuals who advocate on behalf of patients, and in-depth interviews with individuals who made a complaint to the GMC in 2017.

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