GP practice gave wrong advice on how to escalate a complaint about it

Summary 1102 |

Mrs A complained about the GP Practice's failure to diagnose and treat her urinary tract infection (UTI) in a reasonable time, and about the attitude of her GP. She also complained about the accuracy of her medical records, about the Practice's complaint handling and its failure to learn from her complaint.

What happened

Mrs A began to suffer discomfort passing urine about a week after gynaecological surgery. She saw her GP who initially did not prescribe antibiotics. Her symptoms got worse and so Mrs A went back to her GP, who this time prescribed her a five day course of antibiotics. She was so uncomfortable during this consultation that she could not sit down.

Mrs A had a phone consultation with her GP a few days later, when she reported some improvement. The GP extended her course of antibiotics by five days as she was about to go on holiday to France.

While on holiday, Mrs A saw a doctor who prescribed a different antibiotic. Her symptoms gradually improved throughout the following weeks.

Mrs A complained to the Practice about the care and treatment she had received, and about what she described as the GP's uncaring attitude. She wasn't happy with the Practice's response to her complaint and contacted the primary care trust (PCT), who indicated it would investigate her concerns. However, it passed the complaint back to the Practice, which gave a further response. In line with the PCT's governance processes for reported concerns about a doctor, a Clinical Governance Review Panel reviewed the case. Mrs A said she was not involved in this process.

What we found

We upheld some parts of Mrs A's complaint.

The Practice's care and treatment was appropriate. With regard to the GP's attitude, the Practice had already apologised to Mrs A about communication issues that arose during the consultations, and the GP confirmed that she had undertaken training modules on communication. The Practice undertook an educational session with a consultant urologist and carried out a Significant Event Analysis to identify lessons to be learned.

The Practice's clinical records for Mrs A did not adequately document the relevant clinical findings, the decisions made and the information it had given her. We upheld this aspect of the complaint.

With regard to complaint handling the Practice provided a reasonable response to Mrs A in good time. It did wrongly advise her that the next stage of the complaint process would be to contact the PCT, but we have checked that its current complaints leaflet correctly informs patients of their right to bring the complaint to us.

The PCT incorrectly gave Mrs A the impression that it would investigate her complaint. It should have advised her that, as the Practice had already responded to the complaint, it could not deal with it and she could either bring her complaint to us or ask for further clarification from the Practice. The PCT should also have informed Mrs A of the outcome of the Clinical Governance Review Panel.

Putting it right

The Practice apologised to Mrs A for its poor record keeping. The Practice and the GP agreed to put together an action plan to show how they would improve their record keeping, and the GP agreed to discuss this issue in her appraisal.

The PCT ceased to exist in April 2013, so we could not make recommendations in relation to its failings. However we shared our findings with NHS England.

Health or Parliamentary
Organisations we investigated

A GP practice



Complainants' concerns ?



Recommendation to learn lessons or draw up an action plan