GP surgery in 'special measures' after patients and staff raise concerns
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A doctor’s surgery looking after more than 8,000 patients has been slammed by health inspectors who rated its services as ‘inadequate’ overall.
Care Quality Commission experts visited The Tollgate Practice in London Road, Stanway, in April and published their findings earlier this month.
The surgery, located inside Tollgate Health Centre, was considered to be providing a ‘good’ level of service by inspectors in 2019.
But this time, assessors had particular concerns in two key areas - the level of care provided, and responsiveness to patients’ needs.
Safety, leadership and the effectiveness of the surgery were rated as ‘requiring improvement’.
Annette Bloomfield, practice manager, said they were "obviously disappointed to be placed in special measures".
“However, it is important to point out that much of the CQC’s findings were based on responses received from the practice’s last patient survey in July 2020," she added.
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“Since then a number of improvements have been made and every single member of the practice team has been working hard to put things right for our patients."
The CQC’s chief inspector of primary medical services, Dr Rosie Benneyworth, criticised the surgery’s treatment of all patient groups, including families, children and young people, older people, those with mental health issues and those considered at-risk or vulnerable.
It serves approximately 8,200 patients in an area with several new housing estates, where life expectancy is significantly higher than the national average.
She wrote in her report that there was no consistent process to follow up patients who had symptoms which could indicate serious illnesses in a timely and appropriate way.
There was also no procedure for patients who were deteriorating or acutely unwell, she said.
Ms Bloomfield added that a new, full-time practice management team was put in place in January and a second GP partner had recently been recruited.
“We are now offering more early morning, evening, and weekend appointments, and the surgery opens every Saturday for patient appointments," she said.
“A new patient survey is under way and we are confident that the responses it receives will reflect the improvements we have already made.
CQC inspectors also found the surgery was in breach of a health regulation for ‘good governance’.
Specifically, inspectors found there were no effective systems to manage health and safety risks, and systems to monitor and review patients suffering with poor mental health and asthma were also not effective.
She said the inspection was prompted by concerns raised by both staff and patients, and also by health commissioners during routine visits.
Ms Bloomfield added: “We know we still have much to do but everyone at Tollgate is working their socks off to turn things around and will continue to do so.”