Ombudsman in a white coat

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 01 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:826

It would be intolerable,” said the health secretary, “for doctors to face a multiplicity of complaints procedures on clinical matters through the courts and the General Medical Council as well as the perfectly satisfactory procedures for general practitioners.” So said Sir Keith Joseph in 1973, when he announced that the newly created British health service ombudsman would have no jurisdiction over general practitioners or any doctor when exercising clinical judgments.

But what was intolerable in 1973 is eminently tolerable in 1995. Today's health secretary, Virginia Bottomley, has decided that, one year from today, the jurisdiction of the ombudsman will be extended to cover clinical complaints and the services of GPs (p 824). The surprise of the announcement is matched only …

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