One in Three GP Surgeries Fail To Meet Basic Standards, Says CQC

12 December 2013

One in Three GP Surgeries Fail To Meet Basic Standards, Says CQC

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has revealed its findings from its first national inspection of more than 900 GP surgeries in England. Amongst the details of its report, it has concluded that one in three of the surgeries currently fail to meet basic standards.

The CQC undertook checks at certain GP surgeries after concerns were raised. Amongst the failings identified, the CQC saw evidence of poor standards in the handling of medicines, lack of cleanliness and shockingly the discovery of maggots at two of the surgeries.

The CQC opined that in nine of the investigated cases, the failings were so serious that they could ‘potentially affect thousands of people.”

The CQC revealed full details of the surgeries after finding evidence and have ordered them to implement improvements, with one case being so serious that new GP management had to be brought in.

The reportage comes in light on next year’s first national GP inspection regime. The CQC felt some of the most worrying aspects of the findings related to the handling of medicine in particular. The CQC said it had found examples of emergency drugs being out of date and vaccines not kept in properly regulated fridges – this latter fact is particularly of concern and this lack of appropriate care could damage the effectiveness of the jab and cause outbreaks of disease.

The CQC further said some practices were "visibly dirty", and even in one of the better-performing practices, Dale Surgery in Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, CQC inspectors still found evidence of maggots. The details of a second practice where maggots were found have not yet been released.

The practices which were ordered to improve were: Dr Harira Syed's practice, Rochdale, Lancashire; Norris Road Surgery, Sale, Cheshire; Wolds Practice, Horncastle, Lincolnshire; Kingshurst Medical, Birmingham; Lincoln Road Surgery, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire; Northfield Surgery, Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Dr Satish Patel's, Reading, Berkshire; Long Street Surgery, Wigston, Leicestershire; King Street Surgery, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire.

The CQC inspected a total of 910 GP surgeries, 80% were chosen for inspections because of known concerns which the regulator said had been locally known about for some years beforehand by the community. The remainder were chosen at random.

The CQC is looking to inspect all 8,000 practices over the following two years and give them one of four ratings - "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and "inadequate" - as is happening with hospitals.

Prof Steve Field, the CQC's new chief inspector of GPs explained to the BBC that this kind of transparency would lead to a shift in the way that treatment should be seen to be tackled, and that this would lead to a new culture where such low standards should be reprimanded as a matter of course.

He said "We are hearing about problems that people are very worried about but no-one has tackled in the past.

"We need to make sure that everyone, from the most well-off to the most disadvantaged, can get access to really good care."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Of the really poor practices we're talking nine or ten out of that 900, so very tiny numbers. But, if you have a problem with, for example, storage of vaccinations for children, the impact could be on hundreds of patients. So the numbers are small, but the impact is large."

Roger Goss, of the campaign group Patient Concern, said: "The failings are inexcusable. The standards the CQC wants met are the basic minimum for protecting patients' safety, let alone improving their health."

Dr Maureen Baker, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, said: "Breaches of procedure cannot be condoned - even if they are isolated incidents."

She was careful to add that despite the serious nature of the findings, full investigation was required to see the overall picture of care: "Patients should expect high quality and consistent care from their GP practice, and the vast majority of practices do an excellent job of delivering quality care while maintaining the highest possible standards."

GP practices with serious concerns

·Dr Harira Syed's practice (Rochdale, Greater Manchester) - No equipment available, such as oxygen, to use in the case of a patient emergency. Not enough staff or adequate training in areas such as basic life support.

·Norris Road Surgery (Sale, Greater Manchester) - Staff not undergone criminal record checks and practice did not gather feedback from patients. No up-to-date training or infection-control policy. Consulting rooms dusty and cluttered.

·Wolds Practice (Tetford, Lincolnshire) - Errors in the supply of medicines to patients. Problems relating to the management of controlled drugs.

·Lincoln Road Surgery (Peterborough, Cambridgeshire) - Practice visibly dusty, poorly maintained and inadequate infection control.

·Northfield Surgery (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) - Prescribing problems, including evidence of patients getting the wrong medicines, and shortfalls in monitoring quality of care.

·Dr Satish Patel's ( Reading, Berkshire) - Infection control guidance not followed.

·Long Street Surgery (Wigston, Leicestershire)- Personal information not kept securely and concerns over staff safety. Could not demonstrate reasonable steps to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse were being taken.

·King Street Surgery (Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) -No systems in place to ensure patients were cared for by suitably-trained staff, which meant there was a lack of awareness about child protection issues. Compliant on follow up inspection.

Source: Care Quality Commission

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