Complaints against British doctors are being made in greater numbers than ever before thanks to social media, says a new report commissioned by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The number of complaints made by the public has doubled between 2007 and 2012, even though the GMC say there is no evidence of falling standards in the profession.

Researchers at Plymouth university who were enlisted to investigate the surge found that Facebook and Twitter means patients can discuss their medical experiences and share information.

Greater sharing online as well as increased negative press coverage has seen the number of complaints skyrocket from 5,168 in 2007 to 10,342 in just five years.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: "The challenge for the GMC and other organisations is to make sure that anyone who has a concern or complaint can find their way to the right organisation to deal with it. For the vast majority of patients and relatives, that will mean local resolution."

Dr Julian Archer, the report's lead author, said the findings showed the reasons behind complaints are "hugely complex" and reflects increased public awareness, the influence of the media and the role of technology.