Failing Sunderland GP practice put back in special measures

Pallion Health Centre, where Hylton Medical Group is based.
Pallion Health Centre, where Hylton Medical Group is based.
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A failing Sunderland GP practice has been placed in special measures for a second time.

England’s Chief Inspector of General Practice has rated Hylton Medical Group, based at Pallion Health Centre, 'inadequate' following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in February.

The practice was originally rated Inadequate and placed into special measures in July 2015.

Following improvements, and another inspection, the practice’s rating was amended to Requires Improvement in April last year.

This inspection sees the practice return to special measures.

A full report of this inspection has been published on the CQC website at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-537646533.

Alison Holbourn, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice at CQC said: “We found that people registered with Hylton Medical Group are not getting the high quality 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 that 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, and no way of knowing in which areas they needed to drive improvement.

“Following this inspection we also found fresh concerns around leadership at the practice.

"We weren’t confident that the practice were providing effective clinical leadership or that leaders had a comprehensive understanding of the practice performance.

“I do not believe that the practice is likely to resolve its challenges without external support; therefore we are placing the practice back into special measures to ensure that action will be taken to improve the quality of care for patients.”

Some of the areas where CQC have told the practice they must improve, include:

- The practice should ensure there is discussion and leadership around best practice and clinical guidelines at practice level.

- They should ensure there is a programme of clinical improvement initiatives.

- The practice should ensure there is clinical input into the practice nurses appraisals.

- The practice should ensure all staff receive training appropriate to their role.

Ms Holbourn added: "The service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.

Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within a further six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.

"Patients registered with the practices being placed into special measures should be aware that a package of support is offered by NHS England and the Royal College of GPs to ensure that there are no immediate risks to patient safety at these GP practices whilst improvements are being made."

A statement on Hylton Medical Group's website entitled 'Care Quality Commission inspection', read: "The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the body that regulates healthcare providers in England, has recently started to inspect all GP practices, and has carried out a routine inspection of Hylton Medical Group.

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."