Rise in complaints against Nottinghamshire NHS GPs and dentists since pandemic

The number of complaints against GP and dental practices in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire rose following the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.
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It follows a trend across England, where written complaints made against primary care providers have risen by 35 per cent since 2018-19, largely driven by a 44 per cent increase in the number of complaints made against GPs.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said the national rise is ‘sad and troubling’, but said the family doctor service has withered over the last decade, with no longer enough GPs to meet demand.

NHS England figures show 2,331 complaints were submitted against GPs, dentists and other primary care services in the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board area in 2022-23 – up from 1,761 in 2018-19.

Complaints against NHS GPs and dentists have risen in NottinghamshireComplaints against NHS GPs and dentists have risen in Nottinghamshire
Complaints against NHS GPs and dentists have risen in Nottinghamshire

Nationally, 126,000 complaints were made – up from 120,000 the year before.

Prof Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the RCGP, said: "The unfortunate reality is that our hard-working and committed GPs often end up the 'fall guys' for the Government’s failure to appropriately resource and fund primary care.

"Everyone working in general practice is trying to do their very best for their patients, but in increasingly difficult circumstances.

"Our family doctor service has been allowed to wither on the vine for over a decade and we no longer have enough GPs to meet demand."

Further NHS England figures show there were 27,302 full-time-equivalent GPs excluding those in training across England as of September – down from 28,486 in March 2019.

The falling trend was emulated in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, where the number of fully qualified FTE GPs has fallen slightly from 581 to 573.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is making it easier for patients to see their GP, with 135,000 more appointments per working day offered in September than a year ago and that some £240m of funding has been announced to improve technology in GP surgeries to make it easier for patients to contact them.

Dave Briggs, medical director at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB, said: “Since the Covid pandemic there has been an increase in complaints about primary care throughout the country, but this has also coincided with a significant increase in demand and in the number of appointments being provided across primary care over the same period.

“During September this year alone, more than 670,000 GP appointments were provided in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, the highest number than at any time in the last two-and-a-half years.

“NHS staff continue to work extremely hard and we’ve adopted new ways of working to meet that increase in demand.

“General practice teams have been expanded to provide extra expert capacity at our practices, with an extra 600 nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and other roles added since 2019.

"Work is also continuing to upgrade telephone systems to make it easier for people to contact their general practice, the 24-hour NHS 111 is being improved and extra services are being provided at local community pharmacies.”

“Challenges with access to NHS dental services are a well-documented, national issue and predominantly relates to work on-going nationally to reform the dental contract.

"Alongside other ICBs, we are pressing for a speedy resolution to this issue and in the meantime working with our dentist practices on ways of trying to create more capacity in the system locally.”