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Out of hours GP complaints pass 500


Complaints about out of hours GP care have risen by more than 50 per cent, latest figures have shown.

A total of 517 complaints about the quality of care were made in 2007-08, rising significantly from 337 in 2005-06, while compensation claims jumped from 41 to 73, according to the Medical Defence Union.

Of these, 120 complaints and 52 claims in 2007-08 were allegations of delay or failure to recognise a condition, such as heart attack, meningitis, pneumonia or septicaemia.

A further 75 complaints and 17 claims related to a patient’s death, and 71 instances complained that a GP has been rude, off-hand or uncaring.

Nineteen people had issues with telephone assessments, and 28 complained their doctor did not make a home visit.

One complainant said a GP prescribed abdominal pain medication for an unseen patient, who later developed appendicitis.

Dr Stephen Green, Medical Defence Union head of risk management, said: “We are advising out of hours doctors to pay particular attention to the need for clear, unambiguous communication with patients and colleagues, including accurate and comprehensive note-taking and arranging follow-up if necessary.”


Readers' comments (3)

  • NHS Nursing Student

    I suppose it all comes down to as to who is running the GP out of hours service. We have all seen recently how locum doctors from abroad who come here to run the out of hours services can be dangerous.

    PS: Why is this Nursing news?

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  • Dear Student

    It is nursing news because the OOH service managers are all almost exclusively ex nurses in my area and I presume in most other areas too! These managers are more interested in reducing costs than providing an excellent service. Well excellence costs money - the choice is either use local GPs who have knowledge of patients and services or get doctors from Europe with poor English and even less knowledge of the way the NHS is run or our patients behave and expect!

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  • NHS Nursing Student

    Well perhaps there is where the problem actually lies, ex-nurses running a non-nursing service. You'd never expect ex-GP's to run a nurse-led service. Will they make use of anyone in the NHS who are unable or cant (for 1000s of other reasons, some often aweful) work on a ward or with real people anymore? Ex-clinicians don't make the best managers just because they have worked with the patient, something is wrong.

    As for the out-of-hours GP service, mine in my area was exceptionally good to me during my christmas break, perhaps it's a local issue, across many trusts, cracks are starting to appear now and will trend across the UK, hopefully the cracks can be filled because an out-of-hours GP service is really a service that delivers when it's at it's best. I coulden't have gone without mine over the past few years, and would miss it and woulden't know what to do now if it was gone. And the majority of people probably feel the same.

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