London: There has been a record rise in complaints by patients against doctors during 2011, including a rise of nearly 19 per cent in complaints against Indian doctors working in the National Health Service, according to Britain`s medical regulator.
Releasing latest figures, the General Medical Council (GMC), which oversees doctors practicing medicine in the UK, said overall the complaints increased by 23 per cent from 7,153 in 2010 to 8,781 in 2011.
A GMC official told a news agency that the figure for 2011 includes 793 complaints against doctors who gained their primary medical qualification in India and then moved to Britain to train and work.
In 2010, the number of complaints against Indian doctors was 667, the official said.
As of 2011, there were 25,592 doctors on GMC`s register who gained medical qualifications in India. The complaint figures for 2010 (667) and 2011 (793) relate to doctors who qualified in India and not to doctors of Indian origin who qualified in the UK.
According to a GMC report titled `The State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK`, there has been a drop in the number of Indian doctors coming here to train and work, reflecting tighter immigration controls and better career choices in India.
But the report says that India continued to provide the largest number of overseas doctors, but the number has reduced considerably from a peak of 3,641 in 2004 to current levels of around 500 a year.
The report reveals that during 2011, the greatest number of doctors joining the medical register came from Pakistan (550), India (489), Romania (449), Italy (386) and Greece (365).
The report says: "Doctors with a primary medical qualification from India represent the largest group of overseas doctors on the register. However, the number of doctors coming from India has dropped from a peak of 3,641 in 2004 to current levels of around 500 a year".
It adds: "This may reflect changes in immigration rules in the UK, but may also be because the Indian Government is concerned that the country has a shortfall of up to 600,000 doctors. Graduates who pursue higher studies in the USA now have to return to work in India for at least two years".
The report adds that doctors who qualified in Pakistan represent the second largest group of doctors on the register, with 8,606 at the end of 2011, and the largest number of doctors joining the register during 2011.
According to the GMC, the number of doctors falling seriously below the standards expected of them remains relatively small.
The regulator took action in more than 500 cases and gave advice in a further 700.
The names of 65 doctors were erased last year from the medical register, in effect permanently removing their right to practise medicine in the UK, and a further 93 were suspended.