GP locums and good communication

13th June 2022 by Dr James Thorpe and Dr Rachel Birch

GP locums and good communication

We each react differently to difficult interactions with patients – sometimes these reactions are effective; sometimes they are not. It is important that all GPs have the appropriate communication skills to be able to respond to these challenges, in order to bring about a more favourable outcome for the practice and patients. Additionally, locum GPs may not know the patients or their colleagues as well as the permanent staff members, so they may wish to take particular care when choosing their words.

The majority of complaints and claims are not always related to the clinical quality of care a patient has received at the practice, but are triggered by inadequate communication. A relationship breakdown often occurs before the incident that leads to a complaint.

Medical Protection’s claims and complaints data, and international research, consistently demonstrates that patient dissatisfaction with their doctor’s or practice’s communication fuels the majority of complaints, and poor communication and a perceived lack of caring is instrumental in patients’ decisions to sue.

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Dr Ruth Snowball, GP, Birmingham

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