More than 1,000 written complaints against Peterborough and Cambridgeshire GP surgeries

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More than 1,000 written complaints were made against GP surgeries in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough last year, new figures show.

Across England, many complaints related to difficult communication with surgeries, with the British Medical Association saying issues are caused by doctors too stretched to spend enough time with patients.

NHS Digital figures show that 1,152 written complaints were made against doctors’ surgeries in the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG area in 2018/19.

Of the 1,142 resolved – some were carried forward or left until the next year – 38 per cent were fully upheld and 15 per cent partially upheld.

The most common reason for complaints against GP surgeries in the area was communication.

GPs were the most common subject of complaints, mentioned in 43 per cent of new cases – followed by administrative staff including receptionists (24 per cent) and cases in which no staff were involved or staff were categorised as other (16 per cent).

Across England, nearly 93,000 complaints were made against primary care givers in 2018/19. For GPs, they most commonly cited communications or staff attitudes, behaviour and values.

The British Medical Association’s GP committee chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, said: “This survey shows much of the dissatisfaction felt by patients stems from communication problems, rather than clinical errors, and doctors know that they simply don’t have enough time to spend with their patients and cope with rising demand, with the risk that communication issues could arise.

“All clinicians want to do their jobs safely but need the time, resources and funding to be able to do that.”

NHS dentists in the CCG received a further 296 written complaints in 2018/19 – 62 per cent were fully upheld and five per cent partially.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and their teams see over 1 million patients every day and we actively encourage patients to submit feedback and raise complaints if they are not satisfied with any aspect of the care they’ve received so that we can continue to improve all aspects of our service.

“We know from the last independent GP patient survey that the great majority of patients have a good experience of general practice, and this demonstrates the hard work and dedication of GPs and their teams who are working tirelessly to deliver high quality care in every corner of the country.

“As a profession we are facing immense workforce pressures with a huge increase in patient numbers coupled with a shortage of doctors to care for them. Inevitably, this will occasionally impact on the service we can deliver and this can be frustrating for patients – and for GPs.”

While NHS Digital said that data quality issues meant complaints could not be compared year-on-year, the figures show that 1,280 written complaints were submitted against GPs in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG in 2017/18, and 260 against dentists.