Tribunal upholds CQC decision to suspend GP's registration in first legal battle

A tribunal has ruled on the side of the CQC to suspend a London GP's registration outright in what marks the first case the watchdog faced legal action from a GP over its new rating system.

Appeal marked the first time the CQC faced legal action from a GP. Pic: Jason Heath Lancy
Appeal marked the first time the CQC faced legal action from a GP. Pic: Jason Heath Lancy

The tribunal voted unanimously that the CQC’s decision to immediately suspend GP Dr Mujib ul Haq Khan’s registration for four months after it found ‘serious concerns about patient safety’ was the right one to make, at a hearing on 25 March.

Dr Khan's appeal marked the first time the CQC faced legal action from a GP provider over one of its decisions in its revamped rating system.

In its ruling, the tribunal said it was ‘inescapable’ to conclude that the practice exposed patients, staff and doctors ‘to the risk of harm’ and that this would have continued ‘without action on the part of the CQC’.

'Serious concerns'

The Granville Road Surgery in Wandsworth was officially rated ‘inadequate’ by the CQC earlier in the month. It is one of 15 practices to be given the bottom-rung rating so far, but the first and only to have its registration immediately revoked for a period of time.

The CQC made the decision after it identified ‘serious concerns’ in its inspection of the practice in January this year. It issued an urgent notice to suspend the practice days later.

Most ‘inadequate’ practices are placed into a ‘special measures’ programme whereby they are given a year of support to help them turn care around. Only if they fail to improve after this period would they normally lose their registration.

The single-handed practice’s 800 patients have now been temporarily relocated to nearby practices by NHS England.

Emergency medicines not available

The CQC said there were a number of reasons behind its decision to take drastic action, including emergency medicines not being available, fire safety risks, child safety protection concerns and no arrangements being in place to record and report incidents.

It said the practice had also failed to carry out the appropriate employment checks on the four locums that worked there. The provider could not currently work at the practice following a suspension by NHS England, and CQC said he had failed to put plans in place to govern the day-to-day management of the practice.

Ruth Rankine, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of general practice, said the CQC would always ‘do what it takes’ to ensure that ‘patients and the public are protected’.

She said: ‘We were confident we had taken the right decision to protect people and I am delighted that the tribunal agreed we did the right thing.

‘This case saw repeated breaches of the law and patients were being put at risk. We do not take enforcement action lightly, but are satisfied that the tribunal has agreed with our assessment that patients were at risk at this practice.’

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