Review of complaints and compliments

The GMC says

The purpose of gathering and reflecting on compliments and complaints:

  • To identify areas of good practice, strengths and what you do well.
  • To identify areas for improvement, lessons learned and any changes to be made as a result.
  • To demonstrate you value patients' and others' concerns and comments about your work by making changes as a result of the feedback you have received.

The GMC's requirements

  • You must declare and reflect on all formal complaints made about you at your appraisal for revalidation. You should also reflect upon any complaints you receive outside of formal complaints procedures, where these provide useful learning.
  • You do not have to discuss every complaint at your appraisal. You should select those that evidence your insight and learning into your practice, and those that have caused you to make a change to your practice. You must be able to explain to your appraiser, if asked, why you have chosen these complaints over others as part of your appraisal discussion.
  • At your appraisal, you should discuss your insight and learning from the complaints, and demonstrate how you have reflected on your practice and what changes you have made or intend to make.

You should follow the same principles for collecting, discussing and reflecting on compliments.


  • You should reflect on any compliments you have received annually as part of your reflection on patient (or colleague) feedback.
  • You should include a reflective note, rather than original material, in your submitted appraisal portfolio, due to the difficulties with anonymising data, and keep any original cards or letters, if you wish, securely in a paper portfolio. Such original data, if shared with your appraiser, can be referenced in the appraisal summary to preserve the anonymity of the sender without defacing the source material.


"This guidance defines formal complaints as complaints received about you or your team that have been formally acknowledged or recorded by you or the organisation to which it was sent." (GMC, 2018 p.25)

  • Complaints should be seen as another type of feedback, allowing doctors and organisations to review and further develop their practice and to make patient-centred improvements.
  • All organisations where doctors work should have appropriate complaints procedures, which should include all doctors who work in that organisation, including locums.
  • You should be aware of the complaints procedures for all the organisations in which you work and be kept fully informed of all formal complaints in which you are named.
  • You should include your reflection on all formal complaints in which you have been named, or involved, in your appraisal every year, although if the complaint is not yet resolved your reflection may be incomplete.
  • Your reflections should consider how the complaint arose, your response and any further actions taken, or to be taken (and the results of those changes once available).
  • You do not have to discuss your reflection on every complaint at your appraisal if it has been fully discussed elsewhere but you should always declare all complaints.
  • You may not have been personally named, or involved, in any complaints during the year, in which case you should declare that.
  • If a complaint in which you have been named goes on over several years, you do not need to reflect on it in detail at every appraisal if no significant progress has been made, but you should acknowledge that there is an ongoing complaint every year in your annual declaration, and include reflection about it at least once in every revalidation cycle.
  • All relevant data included in the appraisal and revalidation portfolio should be anonymised to remove any third-party identifiable information. For this reason, although your reflection on any complaint should always form part of your appraisal portfolio, specific original supporting information relating to complaints should be shared with your appraiser separately, and discussed at appraisal so that your appraiser can comment on it in the appraisal summary.

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