GP trainees’ and First5’s preparedness for complaints

Talk Code: 
Olivia Jagger
Hazel Everitt, Catherine Woods
Author institutions: 
University of Southampton


Complaints about doctors are rising. NHS Digital data reported 94,637 complaints in primary care in 2017/18, a 14.6% increase over 2 years.. Wessex GP Education Unit identified preparedness for complaints as a gap in their Vocational Training Scheme (VTS). Effectively responding to complaints, demonstrating learning from complaints and managing the personal impact of complaints are competencies in the GP curriculum. However, GPs often report feeling unprepared for managing complaints in practice.This is important because there is a growing body of evidence that complaints can negatively impact doctors mental health, wellbeing, professional performance and career choices, with implications for patient care and workforce retention. The transition from trainee to qualified GP is recognised as a challenging and stressful career stage, transitioning from a supportive well-protected environment to independent practice. Newly qualified GP’s are a vulnerable group at higher risk of mental illness and burnout through pressures of work. One in four GPs accessing the national GP health service are First5’s. An NHS England review into complaint handling in general practice identified a need to improve support for GP’s through education in complaints management before they qualify.The aim of this study is to understand GP trainee and First5’s experiences of, attitudes towards, impact of and perceived preparedness for complaints and importantly, how they could be better prepared.


Qualitative semi-structured interviews with 15-30 GP trainees and First 5’s in Wessex are planned. A topic guide has been developed, informed by the literature and expert opinion and trialed in 2 interviews. Interviews will be audio-recorded, transcribed, anonymised and imported into NVivo and thematic analysis undertaken.


Ethical approval has been sought and preliminary results will be presented at the conference.


Little is known about GP trainees experiences of, the impact of or their perceived preparedness for complaints. Findings will inform development of an educational intervention within Southampton VTS to improve GP trainees’ preparedness for complaints.

Submitted by: 
Olivia Jagger
Funding acknowledgement: