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Increase in complaints shows failure of system

Thursday, 8 November 2001

Dr Helen Rodenburg President

Increase in complaints shows failure of system, not doctors

The “record high” in complaints against doctors noted by Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson in his Annual Report to Parliament is due more to systems failure than a lack of competence in the medical profession.

That's the view of the organisation responsible for training would-be GPs and assisting experienced practitioners to retain their vocational registration, the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners. “The rise in the number of complaints shows that the health system simply isn't meeting the needs of patients or their doctors,” College President Helen Rodenburg says.

“There are a multitude of issues that effect the quality of care doctors are able to provide - everything from whether there are enough GPs in a given area to be able to adequately care for the population; whether people can afford to access primary care in a timely way; through to whether there is access to quality support services like laboratories and hospital departments when required.

“That general practice or maternity, for instance - have their own additional set of systemic difficulties,” Dr Rodenburg said. “An increase in complaints isn't evidence of decreasing competence amongst doctors, but rather of the increasing pressure under which the health system is placing all health professionals and their patients.

“Complaints need to be analysed for common threads which lead to failures in care,” Dr Rodenburg suggested. “That analysis could then be used to inform advice to the government and the medical profession.”

ENDS


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