Letter: Complaints system does not favour GPs

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The Independent Online
Sir: As chairman of the British Medical Association's working party which produced the association's evidence for the independent review of the NHS complaints system, I agree with your report ('I wish to make a complaint', 21 April) that the current complaints system needs a radical overhaul.

However, I cannot agree that the present system is 'loaded' in doctors' favour. The enormous stress which confronts doctors and, in particular, GPs, when they face complaints, is stark testimony to the fact that the present system does not favour doctors.

The BMA joined with many patient organisations in pressing the Government to review the present system and many of the recommendations we have put forward are in line with recommendations suggested by patients' organisations. What we need is a speedier, more responsive complaints system which will allow patients to be given an explanation and, where appropriate, an apology, which the present system does not permit. We need to remove the present secrecy surrounding complaints, and the NHS as a whole needs to learn from complaints.

May I remind you that it was not doctors who devised the present system. It was former governments. The time has now come for the sake of both patients and doctors to bring in a new system.

Yours faithfully,


British Medical Association

London, WC1