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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Complaints against doctors on the rise
NHS
Doctors communication skills are called into question
The NHS ombudsman for Wales has raised concerns over the number of complaints he has received about the conduct of doctors.

In his latest annual report, Michael Buckley has highlighted the particular problem with doctor's communication skills.

Michael Buckley
Michael Buckley concerned about clinical decisions

Last year, Mr Buckley received 162 complaints, an 11% increase on the previous year.

In total 25 of the complaints involving NHS organisations and individuals were thought to merit further investigation.

However, despite the increase in complaints in 2000, the report does point out that so far this year there has been a 20% reduction in complaints to the ombudsman.

The report found that three quarters of the complaints were concerned with the way clinical decisions were made and communicated to patients and their relatives.

Improvements

The health watchdog also found many cases where a doctor's actions and judgements fell short of the standards patients could reasonably expect.

One example highlighted involved a doctor who failed to inform nurses that he had decided to carry out a surgical procedure - as a result his patient was not fed intravenously over a period of time.

Mr Buckley has also said he is keen to see improvements in the standards of nursing care and also believes there is room to improve the complaints procedure.

Currently patients are expected to go through the NHS's own complaints process, then take their grievance to an independent review before finally referring it to the Ombudsman, which can take up to four years.

He argues that this process is far to bureaucratic and should be streamlined creating a quicker and more effective two tier process for patients and their families to seek redress.

See also:

14 Jun 00 | Health
Rise in NHS complaints
21 Jun 01 | Health
Lack of NHS resources 'no excuse'
26 Nov 98 | Health
NHS disasters under the spotlight
17 Jun 99 | Health
Ombudsman to name unrepentant GPs
16 Nov 00 | Background Briefings
How the NHS deals with complaints
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