Ombudsman will rule on clinical complaints

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 01 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:824

A move towards patient power took place in Britain last week when the government announced that all NHS doctors and their clinical actions are to be brought within the jurisdiction of the health service ombudsman, who will adjudicate on complaints by patients and their relatives about their treatment.

At present the actions of family doctors, as well as matters of clinical judgment, are outside the ombudsman's scrutiny, which is confined to looking at administrative complaints.

The decision by the health secretary, Virginia Bottomley, to bring all these complaints within a revamped NHS complaints system took most doctors by surprise, and the BMA expressed its concern at crucial points of detail still to be agreed.

The inclusion of general practitioners and clinical complaints within the ombudsman's ambit will be …

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