CQC uses 'emergency' powers to shut down special measures practice

A practice operating across two sites in Suffolk has been urgently shut down by the CQC in 'an emergency decision' after failing to improve during six months in special measures.

Professor Steve Field: standards at worst practices shocking
Professor Steve Field: standards at worst practices shocking

The closures come on the day CQC released a comprehensive report on the state of health and social care across England, in which chief inspector Professor Steve Field said he had been ‘shocked’ by the poor quality of care at ‘inadequate’ practices.

Oulton Medical Centre had a list size of 5,300 patients, shared with its branch surgery, Marine Parade Surgery, which was located three miles away. Both sites were closed with immediate effect by the CQC on Thursday.

They mark the first special measures practices to be 'urgently' shut down by the CQC. Earlier this month, one GP provider asked to have his registration cancelled after being found ‘inadequate’ for the second time, and one special measures practice improved and left the programme.

Map: CQC GP ratings

An ‘important notice’ on the Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG website directs patients registered at Oulton Medical Centre to a nearby practice, while a limited service will be run at the Marine Parade Surgery by a neighbouring GP until permanent arrangements can be put in place.

It was one of the first practices inspected by the CQC, initially inspected and found ‘inadequate’ in August 2014, before the scheme was officially rolled out in October and before the special measures programme was finalised.

Inspectors visited again in March this year and found improvements had not been made and placed the scheme into special measures.

The CQC report at the time shows that the practice was rated ‘inadequate’ for four of the CQC’s five key lines of enquiry: safe, effective, responsive and well-led. It was rated ‘requires improvement’ for caring.

GP practice closure

The watchdog said the practice had ‘no clear leadership structure’, ‘inadequate processes to ensure patient information was accurately recorded’ and the majority of staff ‘had not received an induction, training or an appraisal’.

Three members of staff at the practice told inspectors that they were ‘discouraged’ from reporting incidents and concerns, the CQC report said, and patients ‘were at risk of harm’ because there were no processes in place to keep them safe.

Both sites were run by two GP partners, and they had been unable to recruit a permanent GP. This placed ‘many demands on the two GP partners’.

Andy Evans, chief executive of Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: ‘The practices were closed following a court decision on 13 October under section 30 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

‘I know that some patients may be concerned and I want to reassure anyone affected by this decision that we are working with all the local GP practices, NHS England and all other interested parties to make sure that every patient receives the care they need.’

Professor Field previously said that poor care from a number of practices had been allowed to go on for too long, and represented a ‘collective failure’ of the GP profession.

Photo: Solent News

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