When we visit a general practitioner (GP), we trust that they will provide us with competent medical care. GPs are held to the same standards as other medical professionals and owe their patients appropriate levels of care. However, if a GP does not carry out their duty of care correctly, this can have serious consequences for patients and the impact can be devastating. In some cases, this could be regarded as negligent care from a GP. Reporting a GP for negligence can be a complex and potentially daunting experience, but it is crucial that all patients receive the care that they deserve and that all GPs are upholding their duty of care. In this article, we will be exploring how to report a GP for negligence.
How can you report medical negligence?
If you are looking to report your GP for medical negligence, there are a few different options that you are able to take:
- You can raise your concerns directly with the GP who is treating you
- You can make a formal complaint to your GP surgery
- You can make a GP negligence claim
Signs of GP negligence
GPs play a very crucial role in providing healthcare to their patients. However, in some instances there may be times where a GP’s actions could fall short of the expected standard of care that the NHS adhere to. These actions could potentially lead to harm or injury to the patient so it is important to be able to recognise the signs of GP negligence so that you are able to know if you have received any sort of GP negligence. Some common signs of GP negligence include:
- Delay or failure to refer for specialist treatment
- Failure to treat a medical condition
- Failure to diagnose a condition
- Issuing an incorrect prescription to a patient
- Not following up on test results
- Failure to record patient information correctly
- Failure to complete a proper patient examination
GP negligence can have serious consequences for patients including a condition becoming worse, unnecessary pain, emotional distress, financial loss and potentially even death. If you have experienced any signs of GP negligence, you are able to report this and make a complaint in order to protect yourself and also ensure that this type of GP negligence will not occur again.
Making a complaint to a GP
A question that is often asked is ‘how do I complain about my GP surgery?’ and it can be a daunting process but you have the right to complain about your GP practice if you do not think that you received the care that you needed.
In order to make a complaint to your GP the NHS has the following procedure:
In the first instance, the NHS says that giving feedback helps to improve the quality of care. By giving feedback directly to your GP, you may be able to resolve the issue quickly without having to make a formal complaint.
If you have given feedback and you do not feel as though your issue has been resolved, you are able to make a formal complaint about your GP.
When making a complaint, you have two options, you can either complain to your healthcare provider (GP surgery) or you can complain to the commissioner, this is the organisation that paid for the service or care that you received. So when making a complaint, you should contact NHS England. Making a complaint to the commissioner may be the right option for you if you do not feel comfortable submitting a complaint directly to your GP.
When you are making a formal complaint, you can do this in writing, by email or by speaking to someone in the organisation.
If you decide to make a complaint about your GP, you should do this as soon as possible but you do have 12 months from when the incident happened. This could potentially be extended if there is a reason as to why you could not make your complaint within the 12 months as long as it is still possible for the NHS to investigate your complaint.
What to include in your complaint
As previously stated, you can make a complaint in writing or verbally, however, making a complaint in writing is usually recommended as you are able to list all of the factual details in writing about what happened. However, if you do decide to take the verbal approach, it is important to write all of the information down in order to maintain a record of your complaint.
In your formal complaint you should include:
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- How has it affected you?
- What do you want to achieve from the complaint?
- Who was involved in the incident?
- How should you be contacted regarding the complaint?
If you need any further help when making a complaint regarding your GP, you can speak to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). This is a free service that can help you through the complaint process.
Once you have submitted a formal complaint, you should get a response promptly and then an internal investigation into the complaint should occur shortly after.
What to expect after you have made a complaint to your GP
Once you have made a complaint regarding your GP, the NHS constitution states that “You have the right to have any complaint you make about the NHS services acknowledged within three working days and to have it properly investigated”
The government states that after you have made a complaint about your GP:
- You should have your complaint acknowledges and looked in to properly
- You should be kept informed of the progress that has been made regarding your complaint and told the outcome
- You should be treated fairly, politely and with respect
- Your care and treatment will not be affected as a result of making a complaint
- You should be offered an opportunity to discuss your complaint with the complaints manager
- You will expect appropriate action to be taken following your complaint
What to do if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint
The NHS pledges to:
- “Ensure that you are treated with courtesy and you receive appropriate support throughout the handling of a complaint; and that the fact you have complained will not adversely affect your future treatment “
- “Ensure that when mistakes happen or if you are harmed while receiving health care you receive an appropriate explanation and apology, delivered with sensitivity and recognition of the trauma you have experienced, and know that lesions will be learned to help avoid a similar incident occurring again”
- “Ensure that the organisation learns lessons from complaints and claims and uses these to improve NHS services”
If you do not feel as though the NHS has adhered to these pledges and you are not satisfied or happy with the response that you have received from the NHS, you can then ask the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to look at your complaint.
This is a free service that makes final decisions about complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS. Their service will only look into more serious complaints about GPs and they will look at your complaint and let you know if they decide to take it further.
Statistics surrounding complaints made to GPs
During 2021-2022 there were a total of 120,064 primary care written complaints made to the NHS, this was an increase of 39.4% from 2021-2022. For GP practices in particular, the most common causes for complaints were communications (13.5%), clinical treatment (13.3%) and staff attitude/ behaviour/ values (12.6%).
Making a GP negligence claim
The NHS Constitution for England establishes the principles and values of NHS England and it sets out the rights to which patients are entitled to. When you visit your GP, you expect these values and principles to be met and that you are going to be cared for to the highest standard. Unfortunately, there are some cases where this standard is not met and this can lead on to GP negligence. Making a complaint to the NHS about the care that you have received from your GP can try to ensure that this is investigated properly and that it doesn’t happen again. Alongside making a complaint, you could also be entitled to make a GP negligence claim.
If you have suffered any harm or injury due to negligence that has been carried out by your GP, you may be entitled to compensation. Pursuing a GP negligence claim alongside making a complaint can provide you with financial support and closure, as well as helping the NHS to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
At Patient Claim Line, we have a team of specialist solicitors who can help you pursue a GP negligence claim and obtain the compensation that you deserve. We understand that dealing with GP negligence can be overwhelming and that is why we are here to support you through your claims process. We have extensive experience in handling GP negligence claims and have helped many patients claim for GP negligence. Plus, we work on a no win no fee basis meaning that there is no financial risk in pursuing your claim.
Contact us today to discuss your case and let us help you through your GP negligence claim.