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Social Media Playing A Part In The Rising Complaints Against Doctors

Doctors Under Fire On Social Media?

A recent report commissioned by the General Medical Council has revealed that a rise in complaints against doctors reflects the role of social media and negative press coverage of the medical profession as a whole.

social media doctor
Source: blog.cureus.com


It comes after the revelation that complaints by the general public against GPs doubled between 2007 and 2012, and as a result, a research team from Plymouth was asked to investigate the dramatic increase.

The numerics are stated in the report, and it is identified that the number of complaints went from 5,168 in 2007 to 10,347 just five years later.

Despite the numeric details, the report did not point to any specific cause for the rise in complaints made by the general public. Instead, it rather ambitiously chose to identify a number of trends that it says have influenced the general public, and correlated these trends with the rise in complaints.

The report suggested that patients are now more aware of their own health, and therefore have much higher expectations of doctors. This attitude results in a shift in power relations between the two parties, and ultimately removes doctors from the pedestal.

As well as this, the report said that social media had a role to play in the rise in complaints, as it encouraged people to discuss their previous experiences with the medical profession. This has been conducted in dedicated public forums and this ensured that specific information about health care could be shared easily and accessed by all.

The biggest influence on the general public is the negative press in the media, and this is also highlighted in the report.

Whilst the media coverage of high-profile medical cases may have had an influence on the rise in complaints, the report also suggested that this also gave rise to more complaints that were not relevant to the GMC, which regulates GPs in the United Kingdom.

social media doctor
Source: pando.com
The lead author of the report, Dr Julian Archer, said that the report had produced “some fascinating findings.” He said: “they show that the forces behind a rise in complaints against doctors are hugely complex and reflect a combination of increased public awareness, media influence, the role of social media technology and wider changes in society.”

He added that “the report also indicated that there is much to do to improve the wider complaint handling system, so that complaints made by the general public about their doctors are directed to the appropriate authorities.”

The research certainly brings up some interesting points, without outlaying hard evidence. Social media gets a hard time in the report, as these conversations about healthcare were happening long before the birth of social media, but they were conducted in private.

The more sinister reason for the rise in complaints is the negative media influence, and a possible government agenda to privatise the NHS.

The mass media will always have great control over the general public, so it comes to no surprise that with all the negative press that surrounds the medical profession, people have chosen to complain. It is a subtle form of indoctrination, and maybe by citing social media as a heavy influence on people’s negative connotations towards doctors, the researchers have been indoctrinated also.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Social Media Playing A Part In The Rising Complaints Against Doctors Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, July 21, 2014 Rating: 5
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