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Sunderland GP practice turns around its fortunes after being in special measures

Pallion Health Centre, where Hylton Medical Group is based.
Pallion Health Centre, where Hylton Medical Group is based.

A GP practice in Sunderland has turned around its fortunes after being placed in special measures less than three years ago.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now found the quality of care provided by Hylton Medical Group, which is based at Pallion Health Centre, to be rated as good after an inspection in September and has taken it out of special measures.

During a previous inspection in April 2015, the service was deemed to be inadequate and placed in special measures.

A further inspection in February 2016 found improvements had been made and Hylton Medical Group was rated as requiring improvement.

CQC staff inspected the service again in February 2017 when the practice, which provides treatment for 5,200 patients, was rated as inadequate and placed into special measures.

At the latest inspection in September, the practice was rated as good for safety, caring, responsiveness, effectiveness and well-led.

Overall, Hylton Medical Group has now been rated as Good.

Kelly Hardy, Practice Manager at Hylton Medical Group said: “The practice has always tried to provide the best possible services for our patients, so it is wonderful to receive such positive feedback from the report.

“We have made great efforts to address the concerns that had been highlighted in the earlier inspection, so we are pleased to see that the CQC has acknowledged the work that has been carried out, and to see the high level of patient satisfaction with the practice.”

Debbie Burnicle, deputy chief officer at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The report shows that the hard work and effort of the practice team has helped to deliver improved services to its patients.

“The CCG has supported the surgery in implementing changes that have delivered significant improvements, to ensure local people have access to good quality, safe and effective GP services.”

Inspectors say bosses have implemented new arrangements and made improvements in all areas relating to clinical audit, staff training and ensuring clinicians were up to date with current evidenced based guidelines and standards.

Extended hours were offered on a Monday and Wednesday morning for patients who could not attend during normal opening hours.

The practice was found to be part of an alliance across Sunderland where appointments were available to patients from 10am until 12pm at weekends and on bank holidays; and on weekday evenings between 6pm and 8pm.

Alison Holbourn, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of General Practice said: “There has clearly been a concerted effort to improve all aspects of the practice – it deserves its new rating of Good

“The practice had good facilities and was well equipped to treat patients and meet their needs.

“It is pleasing to note that they now have a clear leadership structure in place and staff feel supported by management.

“I applaud the practice for having taken action to address the areas of improvement raised during our previous inspection in February 2017.

“There was a renewed focus on clinical governance and leadership.

“Staff we spoke with told us the team had worked well together and was stronger as a result of this work.

“Hylton Medical Practice has made very good progress, consequently it has been taken out of special measures and I feel sure it will continue to make good progress.”