The General Medical Council's (GMC) report, State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK, published today, shows a 23 per cent increase in the number of complaints about doctors, up from 7,153 in 2010 to 8,781 in 2011.
Listening, learning, improving
Commenting on the findings, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "Patient feedback is an invaluable part of improving care. It is essential doctors listen to their patients' experiences - good and bad - to improve professionally. And it is crucial that the right systems are in place to learn from occasions where things go wrong.
"We must keep a careful eye on these complaints. A rise may partly be a result of patients, rightly, being more assertive in voicing dissatisfaction about their care, or it may be something more substantial.
Employers and individual doctors need to analyse this data and look carefully at the cases where doctors have not met the standards patients expect, and what action they need to take when they fall short.
Discussing healthcare concerns
Mr Farrar added: "Every patient should be given the necessary time to discuss healthcare concerns which can often be complex and upsetting. Worryingly, these figures suggest that this is not always the case."
Dignity and compassion
Mr Farrar also highlighted: "Doctors play a major role in making sure patients and their families are treated with dignity and compassion when they access NHS services. The NHS Confederation will continue to engage with the GMC as part of the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People to see how we can tackle this complex issue.
"The introduction of revalidation will be another important step in raising the standards of care among doctors. It will introduce regular assessments for doctors and will help reassure the public that their medical care is up to date, safe and effective. We hope to see that process up and running by the end of the year."
Find out more
Access the report from the General Medical Council's website.
Find out more about the Commission on improving dignity in care.