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North East GP practice to exit special measures following improvements

15 October 2015

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A Tyne and Wear practice has been taken out of special measures following improvements in the quality of its services.

Rowlands Gill Medical Centre in Rowlands Gill, was rated Inadequate under the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new approach to the inspection of GP practices and was put into special measures in January.

In the latest inspection, a specialist team found that the practice had improved in all five key areas and the overall rating is now Good.

Inspectors rated the practice ‘good’ for being safe, effective caring and well led, and ‘requires improvement’ for being responsive. 

England’s chief inspector of general practice, Professor Steve Field congratulated the practice on the progress it has made so far and says it demonstrates how special measures can “galvanise a practice…to improve outcomes for patients”.

“It is clear that the Rowlands Gill Medical Centre has made significant improvements since our original inspection when we had serious concerns relating to the safe delivery of services and the leadership of the practice.

“With the support of NHS England and NHS Newcastle Gateshead [clinical commissioning group], the practice has now set out to provide an accessible, safe and clinically effective service, which will improve the experience and outcomes for its patients,” he says.

Sue McMillan, deputy chief inspector of general practice, North of England, says: “When we inspected the practice in September we found improvements had been made across the board. Medicines were being managed effectively, and regular clinical audits were being carried out as routine. There was a strong learning culture at the practice and staff were highly motivated and committed to improving quality of care”

“There is still some work to do and we shall continue to monitor the practice’s performance. I am confident that, if they keep going, Rowlands Gill Medical Centre can set an example that others will follow.”

When CQC inspected the practice in January 2015, inspectors identified ten areas for improvement and the practice was rated Inadequate for being safe, responsive and well-led.

During the latest inspection in September 2015, CQC found significant improvements had been made. There was a clear leadership structure in place and staff felt supported by management. The practice proactively sought feedback from staff and patients, which it acted on. Staff had received appropriate training and they understood their responsibilities to raise concerns and to report incidents and near misses. Information about safety was recorded and acted on.

Inspectors found that patients’ needs were assessed and care was delivered following best practice guidance. Patients said they were treated with compassion, dignity and respect and that they were involved in decisions about their treatment.

The practice had also been involved in setting up ‘Rowlands Gill Live at Home’, a volunteer befriending and visiting service for the elderly. At the time of the inspection there were 115 members from within the local community and 45 volunteers. The service helped run events including the annual flu vaccination day where volunteers provided teas and coffees for patients.

CQC has told the practice it must ensure that staff are aware of any necessary action to be taken following the receipt of national safety alerts.

It is the second practice in the country to come out of special measures following in the footsteps of The Priory Avenue surgery in Caversham, Reading, which was judged to have improved at the end of September.