this week

The health service commissioner is to name and shame GPs who reject his findings or throw complaining patients off their lists. The move comes as figures due to be published today show a rising number of complaints against the NHS.

Commissioner Michael Buck-ley's annual report says complaints rose by 8 per cent, from 2,660 to 2,869, last year. It adds that in a few 'disturbing' cases GPs have refused to apologise after investigations found against them. 'I have decided that in future I shall name clinicians who refuse to accept my recommendations, or who remove patients from their list for no other reason than the patient has complained,' Mr Buckley said.

GPs have long fought to protect their right to remove patients from lists without explanation, arguing that when doctor-patient relationships irretrievably break down, explanations do not help. Mr Buckley also plans to ask for extra powers to pass on information to regulatory bodies such as the General Medical Council.

The Health Service Commissioner for England, Scotland and Wales Annual Report for 1998-99. www.ombudsman.org.uk