MDU encourages GPs to get support early as complaints increase by 37% on pre-Covid levels

NHS figures show a surge in complaints involving GP practices

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is encouraging GPs to get support from their medical defence organisation as soon as they become aware of a potential complaint, as NHS figures show a surge in cases.

The latest figures on written complaints in the NHS in 2021/22 have shown a 37% increase in complaints against GPs, rising from 72,356 complaints in 2018/19 to 99,459 in 2021/22. In 2020/21 72,087 complaints were recorded and no data was collected in 2019/20 during the height of the pandemic.

Overall, more than 225,000 written NHS complaints were recorded with more than 120,000 being in primary care (GP and dental) and 105,500 in hospital and community health settings. This compares to around 209,000 complaints being made in 2018/19.

A previous MDU survey of 740 doctors found that nearly all GPs had faced a complaint, with 7 in 10 saying it had impacted their professional and personal lives.

Dr Catherine Wills, MDU deputy head of advisory services, said:

"At the MDU, we understand the enormous and relentless pressure our GP members are under every day. Complaints add to the workload and can cause huge worry and stress. We are here to help; we invite all our members to get in touch for advice and support whenever they need it. Our role is to lessen the burden so members are encouraged to get our support early on, as soon as they are aware of a potential complaint."

According to the NHS digital data, the most common causes of complaints involving GP practices were:

  • communications (13.5%)
  • clinical treatment (13.3%)
  • staff attitude/behaviour/values (12.6%).

The MDU has a complaints hub where members can get further advice on issues such as responding to a complaint.

This page was correct at publication on 28/11/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.