As we explain throughout this guide, the GMC's complaints procedure is an extremely serious - and rather complicated - process.
It is important that you understand that the GMC's complaints procedure is only for dealing with very serious concerns about a doctor. Their powers will only be used when a doctor's fitness to practise at all is in question. If you wish to draw attention to a less serious failure in the care you have received, there are a number of other procedures that you can follow locally (see our guidance). To approach the GMC, you have to believe - and have good grounds to argue - that the doctor who treated you deserves very severe punishment (and may even need to have his or her right to practise taken away).
It is also worth emphasising that taking a case to the GMC can be a stressful and demanding thing to do. It is not something you can do anonymously (unless there are exceptional circumstances to your case), so you have to be sure that you will be prepared to stand by your complaint when face-to-face with the doctor, and maybe even in a public hearing.
While we offer these warnings, we also understand that, in certain cases, a complaint to the GMC is an entirely appropriate course of action. The GMC does not monitor doctors' performance directly, so it depends on people bringing cases to their attention. This means that, especially where the monitoring of performance that should be in place at a local level has proved ineffective, it is not only the right but the responsibility of individual patients to raise any serious concerns they have. If you are determined to ensure that your doctor is not allowed to make the mistakes he or she made in your treatment again, then seeking GMC disciplinary procedures can be one of the most effective ways of achieving that goal.
If you are considering bringing a case to the GMC's attention, then you need to ask yourself the following questions.
You can contact the GMC directly (see contact details, below). They provide a form on which you can detail your concerns, or you can simply set out the substance of your complaint in your own words and send it to them. The GMC suggest that the following information will normally be needed to begin an investigation:
If you approach the GMC in this way, a caseworker will be assigned to the case, and should contact you about whether the case is going to be pursued.
If you make a complaint to the GMC, and it decides to investigate your doctor, it will almost certainly pay close attention to your account of events. The GMC's caseworkers, solicitors, assessors and/or Council members may, at various stages, ask you for detailed information about your experiences. You will probably end up telling your story many times, in many different situations: some formal, some less so.
Depending on the route your complaint takes through the GMC's procedures, you may have the right to insist on giving oral evidence to any public or private hearings that take place (although it is very likely that you will be invited to do so, in any case).
If the GMC asks you to appear as a witness you will be given plenty of warning and your expenses will be paid. You will normally be offered the support of one of the GMC's solicitors.
If, at any stage, the GMC decide not to pursue a case against your doctor, they are obliged to write to you, explaining their decision.