Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 22nd 2014 Contents A36
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A rise in complaints against doctors reflects the
role of social media and negative press coverage of
the medical profession, according to a report com-
missioned by the General Medical Council.
Complaints by the public against doctors doubled
between 2007 and 2012.
A research team from Plymouth University was
asked to investigate the increase.
The GMC said there was no evidence of falling
standards in the profession.
The report does not point to any specific cause
for the rise in complaints made by the general pub-
lic.They went up from 5,168 complaints in 2007 to
10,347 five years later.
Instead, it identified a number of trends that it
says have made the public more prone to making
complaints about their doctors.
The report said patients are now better informed
about their health, have higher expectations of doctors
and tend to treat them with less deference than they
It said social media also had a role to play in the
rise in complaints because it encouraged people to
discuss their experiences of the medical profession
in public forums and allowed information to be more
easily accessed and shared.
Negative press coverage could be "chipping away"
at the medical profession s reputation, the report
said, resulting in more people making "me too" com-
plaints to the GMC.
But while media coverage of high-profile medical
cases may have influenced the rise in complaints, it
suggested this also gave rise to more complaints that
were not relevant to the GMC, which regulates doctors
in the UK.
Dr Julian Archer, lead author of the report from
Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine
and Dentistry, said the report had produced "some
He said: "They show that the forces behind a rise
in complaints against doctors are hugely complex
and reflect a combination of increased public aware-
ness, media influence, the role of social media tech-
nology and wider changes in society."
Dr Archer added: "The report also indicated that
there is much to do to improve the wider complaint
handling system, so that complaints made by the
general public about their doctors are directed to the
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said
the research showed that patients were more willing
to complain and found it easier to do so.
But he said: "We have no evidence that the rise
in complaints against doctors reflects falling standards."
He agreed that the complaints system itself could
"The challenge for the GMC and other organisations
is to make sure that anyone who has a concern or
complaint can find their way to the right organisation
to deal with it. For the vast majority of patients and
relatives, that will mean local resolution.
"The large number of complaints we receive that
are not for us suggests that the current system is
not working as well as it should."
Social media 'increases
complaints against doctors'
Forces behind a rise in complaints against doctors
are hugely complex and reflect a combination of
increased public awareness, media influence, the role
of social media and wider changes in society.
or fan dance,
veterans at the
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