The Daily Mail reports that patients are being struck off GPs' lists just for daring to make a complaint. The article is commenting on a report by Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham.
"In one case, an elderly woman and her husband were removed after she wrote to the practice manager to complain that receptionists did not answer the phone while she was trying to book an appointment for their seasonal flu jabs. In a telephone call the practice manager warned them he would ‘get you struck off for this’. Shortly afterwards they were removed from the surgery’s list."
So making a complaint is punishable by being removed from the doctor's list... I invite you to compare this mean-spirited injustice with the way that complaints are dealt with in the commercial world. If you were to complain to Sainsburys or Tesco or M & S, I think you could be pretty sure that the complaint would be investigated and that you would receive a prompt, polite response with a detailed explanation for what had gone wrong, together with thanks for drawing the matter to their attention, apology for your inconvenience and very probably a voucher as recompense. And you could be absolutely sure that you would not be threatened with being banned from their stores! Decent businesses use complaints to improve their service to the public. Not so the NHS.
GPs are, as near as dammit, unaccountable to the public who pay their bloated salaries. (UK doctors are the highest-paid in Europe.) Even extremely grave errors routinely incur neither censure nor penalty. - Read Can you trust your doctor? The non-accountability of doctors encourages arrogance and increasing careless professional negligence. - Here is my own dreadful experience of the NHS Complaints Procedures. Why do so many doctors give such poor service? - Because they can.
Our present government claims that it is seeking to provide greater patient choice. What nonsense! Patient choice in the UK is, as ever, Like it or Lump it!
Update, Wed 19th October 2011: also see today's Daily Mail follow-up article on this subject.