The number of complaints against doctors has increased by almost a fifth in one year, official figures show.
Statistics released by the General Medical Council (GMC) show an 18% increase in the number of complaints in 2012, compared to 2011
However, the number of fitness to practice panel hearings fell from 242 to 208 in 2012.
In 2012, 31% of hearings resulted in suspension and 26% in being removed from the register, down slightly from 38% and 27% respectively in 2011. This means the GMC erased 55 doctors and suspended 64, the lowest numbers since 2008.
Dr Stephanie Bown, from medicolegal firm MPS said the results are “disappointing”.
She said: “The GMC’s statistics confirm a disappointing 18% increase in complaints to the regulator in 2012 compared with the previous year, however it is notable that 60% were closed at triage and 75% of the remainder were concluded by case examiners with no action or advice needed.
“This raises a fundamental question about whether complainants are using the GMC appropriately and we would urge people who have concerns to make greater use of local resolution in the first instance.
“The GMC should be the port of call if satisfactory resolution is not achieved at a local level, or if the issues are very serious. These statistics serve as a reminder to healthcare professionals and trusts of the importance of having a robust and effective complaints service which can command the trust and confidence of patients and public.”