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Levels of satisfaction with doctors high - NZMA

Levels of satisfaction with doctors high - NZMA


All Health Reporters/Chief Executives/Press Officers

FROM: Dr Pippa MacKay, NZMA Chairman

DATE: 8 March, 2000

SUBJECT: Levels of satisfaction with doctors high - NZMA

Surveys and anecdotal evidence show high levels of satisfaction with doctors, says New Zealand Medical Association Chairman Dr Pippa MacKay.

"On the whole, patients are satisfied with their consultations. Based on figures from the Health and Disability Commissioner's office, an average of one complaint is received for every 50,000-plus times a general practitioner is consulted.

"Some complaints receive much publicity, and people may get the impression that they are very common. In fact, the opposite is true."

Figures made public by former Health and Disability Commissioner Robyn Stent showed that only a tiny fraction of visits to doctors result in complaints. In a final press release before she left her job earlier this month, Mrs Stent said an average of 1100 complaints (against all health professionals) were received by her office every year.

"In the context of 15.4 million GP consultations in 1997 alone, and more than 400,000 public hospital discharges in 1998, the numbers of complaints which are investigated by this office represent only a small proportion of total consumers receiving health and disability services. This indicates both the strength of the current health sector, and the value of the Code of Rights," Mrs Stent said.

The Health and Disability Commissioner's annual report showed that 292 complaints against GPs were received during the 1997 year. Complaints against GPs dropped to 279 in 1998 and to 251 last year. Actual breaches of the Code by GPs were found in 30 cases last year.

"We are pleased that Mrs Stent recognised the strength of the current health sector. Doctors take their responsibilities seriously and are valued by their patients," Dr MacKay said.

The NZMA is also pleased to see that the number of open files currently under investigation by the Health and Disability Commissioner has decreased. The number of open files has been more than halved during the last year, to 424. This means cases are being investigated more quickly, which is an improvement for both doctors and patients.

A Ministry of Health survey released last year showed that nine out of 10 adults were satisfied or very satisfied with their last GP visit. Only four percent of those questioned reported being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their last GP visit. The survey found GPs were the most widely consulted of all health professionals.


Dr Pippa MacKay (03) 351 6198 (wk) (03) 355 5717 (hm) (025) 484 718 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Co-ordinator (04) 472 4741 (wk) (025) 284 1081 (mobile)

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