Medicopolitical Digest

GPs approve simpler complaints and disciplinary procedureHealth care in remote areas must be flexibleGovernment endorses strategic review of pathology servicesEuropean Commission reports on Europe's health

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 30 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:880
  1. Linda Beecham

    GPs approve simpler complaints and disciplinary procedure

    The General Medical Services Committee has approved the outline of new complaints and disciplinary procedures which would be simpler, quicker, and fairer for general practitioners and patients. In future the complaints and disciplinary procedures will be separated.

    The complaints procedure is based on recommendations in the Department of Health's report Acting on Complaints, which was its response to the Wilson report, Being Heard. They are due to come into effect in April 1996, are investigative rather than punitive, and aim to resolve most complaints at an informal practice level. GPs would be obliged under their terms of service to operate a practice based complaints system and cooperate with a stage two procedure, which would operate if the practice based procedure did not resolve the complaint, and the new disciplinary arrangements.

    Doctors would no longer be in breach of their terms of service in relation to complaints but would under the disciplinary procedure. The system of medical service committees would be abolished.

    The GMSC has urged the government to reduce the time limit of one year for making a complaint and the health minister was due to announce a decision this week.

    Under the stage one practice based procedure an initial response to a complaint should normally be made within two days and an explanation normally provided within two weeks.

    If the stage two procedure had to be invoked health authorities would set up panels to hold informal hearings into complaints. They would have to make their report available to the authority, the complainant, and …

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