Tuesday 28 January 2020

Concerns about care and costs top GP complaints

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A study of complaints initiated by Leo Varadkar when he was a trainee GP has found cost and communications to be among doctors' biggest flaws.

The Social Protection Minister began the academic research which has involved the review of over 200,000 patients consultations while a student in 2008.

After finishing his training other apprentice doctors took over the work and the final outcomes have just been published in recent days.

Complaints were received from 131 individuals, regarding 125 patients - but only one in three actually came from the patient themselves.

Most criticisms were raised by family members on behalf of the person receiving treatment, the largest of whom were the mothers of minors.

One-in-10 complaints were made by non-family members.

The study, 'An analytic observational study on complaints management in the general practice out of hours care setting: who complains, why, and what can we do about it?', found that 83pc of grievances related to treatments received in a surgery rather than at home or in a public place.

The doctor at the centre of the complaint in most cases was an established GP.

Concerns regarding clinical care was the number one reason for a complaint, followed by cost, communication and the process of care.

Ultimately the report concluded that a "statistically significant reduction" in complaints of 36pc could be achieved by practices that introduced tailored risk strategies.

Mr Varadkar, who served as Health Minister from 2013 until earlier this year, said: "This is just some work I got started as a GP trainee. I'm delighted to see that it has been published.

"There's a lot still to be learned about how complaints are managed and how they can guide service improvements."

Irish Independent

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