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‘Inadequate’ practice urged to improve patient confidentiality

28 January 2019

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A GP practice in London is falling short on standards for safeguarding the privacy of its patients, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Dr Dauod Yosuf Abdulrahman Shantir’s surgery in Waltham Forest – Dr Shantir’s Practice – was given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ following a CQC inspection in November, with ineffective measures to protect patient privacy and confidentiality flagged as an area of concern.
The inspection report, published last week (24 January), stated that the practice should ‘consider ways to improve confidentiality in the reception area’.
It also highlighted that although staff at the Forest Road practice acknowledged the importance of respecting people’s dignity, those working on the reception desk ‘did not promote privacy’.
Inspectors noted that, according to staff, patients would be offered a private room if they seemed to be distressed, and if they wanted to talk about something of a sensitive nature.
However, staff working for other services could overhear conversations taking place in the reception area, placing patients’ privacy at risk.
As well as being rated ‘inadequate’ overall, the practice was deemed ‘inadequate’ for being safe, responsive and well-led. It was rated ‘requires improvement’ for being effective, and for caring.
Concerns about lack of privacy at GP practices nationwide were identified in a survey conducted by The Patients Association earlier this month.
More than half (58%) of 720 patients responding to the survey said there is insufficient space at their practice’s reception desk to speak in private.
Some were worried that their conversations – both at the front desk and on the phone – would be overheard because of the layout of the reception area.
In response to this survey, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard acknowledged that confidentiality can at times be compromised because the way surgeries are arranged means they often ‘don’t lend themselves to the privacy that patients expect and deserve’.
Dr Dauod Yosuf Abdulrahman Shantir’s practice was previously rated ‘requires improvement’, after an earlier inspection in 2017.
It has now been placed in special measures because, as care has declined since that inspection.
Another part of Dr Shantir’s Service criticised in the latest CQC report is ‘timely access to care and treatment’, with ‘insufficient improvements’ having been made to ‘enable patients to access care and treatment from the practice within an acceptable timescale for their needs’.
Patients reported not being easily able to get routine appointments, and access to care and treatment fell short of local and national averages in the practice’s GP patient survey results.
Fewer than a quarter (23%) of patients were positive about their experience of getting through the practice by phone – 15% lower than the previous year, and far below the CCG and national averages of 61% and 70% respectively.
In addition, the practice did not have clear systems in place to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from abuse.
CQC deputy chief inspector, primary medical services, Professor Ursula Gallagher, said:
‘I am disappointed that care at Dr Dauod Yosuf Abdulrahman Shantir’s practice has deteriorated since we last inspected.
‘We have now placed it in special measures. Special measures will give people who use the service the reassurance that the care they get should improve.’