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Practice group could close after second ‘special measures’ rating

by Alice Harrold
27 April 2017

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A practice group in Sunderland has been threatened with closure after CQC inspectors placed it in special measures for a second time.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors rated almost every aspect of care at Sunderland’s Hylton Medical Group as ‘inadequate’ on 20 April.

The practice has lodged an appeal and is awaiting the outcome.

The group, which operates two sites for 5,240 patients, only came out of special measures a year ago.

Hylton Medical Group, which has one GP partner and two long term locums, had been employing a business manager who was ‘acting up’ as practice manager since the previous manager left in May 2015.

Since then the business manager, Kelly Hardy has successfully interviewed for the role of practice manager. Hardy joined the practice in 2009 after nine years with another local practice and a with background in nursing and corporate hospitality.

‘Time of significant change’

The practice told Management In Practice: ‘The inspectors recognised that the practice is good at providing services that are responsive to people’s needs, and received a lot of positive feedback from patients, but they felt the practice did not meet its requirements in full, and have placed it in ‘special measures’ for a period of six months.

‘These concerns are centred on systems and processes rather than patient care, and were raised at a time of significant change in our senior team.

‘Our priority is to provide high quality medical care for our community, and we have already started putting measures in place to meet the CQC’s requirements. In the meantime, the surgery remains open and you can continue to use the service as normal.’

CQC report

Alison Holbourn, deputy chief inspector of general practice at the CQC, said: ‘We found that people were not getting the high quality of care which everyone should expect to receive from their GP.

‘Following improvements at a previous inspection in April last year, the practice has been unable to sustain these and they now return to special measures.

‘We remain particularly concerned about the effectiveness of the service the practice provides to patients.

‘There were no audits taking place, so staff had no way of knowing if the services provided to patients were improving their outcomes.’

Leadership concerns

Following the recent inspection the CQC also found ‘fresh concerns’ around leadership. They weren’t confident the practice was providing effective clinical leadership or that leaders had a comprehensive understanding of the practice performance, Holbourn said.

‘I do not believe that the practice is likely to resolve its challenges without external support.

‘Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within six months and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service and remove the provider’s registration.’

David Gallagher, chief officer at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘It is disappointing the practice has received this rating, but we continue to work with NHS England and other partners to help the practice team tackle the issues that have been raised and make the necessary improvements.’