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Sunderland doctor’s surgery is ‘inadequate’, say inspectors

The surgery is based in Southwick Health Centre.
The surgery is based in Southwick Health Centre.
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A Sunderland doctors’ surgery has been placed in special measures after it was given a damning inspection report.

The service provided by Dr Rex Obonna, whose practice is based at Southwick Health Centre, has been rated overall as “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following a visit last September.

The practice was found not to be safe, effective, caring, responsive or well-led.

In terms of how responsive the practice is to patients’ needs, inspectors said it “requires improvement”.

Dr Obonna said he and staff at the practice were confident they would meet the CQC requirements in the months ahead.

In regards to aspects of safety, the report read: “When things went wrong, reviews and investigations were not thorough enough and lessons learned were not communicated widely enough to support improvement.

“Although risks to patients who used services were assessed, the systems and processes to address these risks were not effective enough to ensure patients were kept safe.

“Areas of concern found included safeguarding, where recording keeping was not adequate, recruitment, where we found recruitment checks had not been carried out for locum doctors.”

Inspectors also found that when looking at leadership of the practice “it did not have a clear vision and strategy”.

“Staff we spoke with were not clear about their responsibilities in relation to the vision or strategy.

“For example, the GP was not engaged with the management of the practice or aware of their responsibilities as a registered manager.

“The business continuity plan was ineffective and needed to be reviewed.”

The CQC says it is working closely with Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS England to support the practice while it addresses the issues identified by the inspection.

Sue McMillan, deputy chief inspector of general practice, said: “It is important that the people who are registered with Dr Rex Obonna can rely on getting the high quality care which everyone is entitled to receive from their GP.

“The standard of care at this practice was not good enough.

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

“This is why we are placing the practice into special measures.”

In a statement Dr Obonna said: “We are committed to providing high quality healthcare for our patients, and we are working to bring our systems into line with the CQC’s requirements.

“We are a small practice, and these findings relate to a period when we had some key members of our team absent due to sickness.

“The inspectors’ concerns centred mainly on systems and processes, with the report also highlighting a number of positives about the caring services we provide to our patients.

“We are proud to have served our community for over 25 years and we are confident that we will meet the CQC’s requirements over the coming months.

“We are also keen for our patients to get involved, by taking part in a patient participation group.

“If anyone has concerns about the report, I would encourage them to contact me or the practice manager and we will be happy to answer any questions.”

David Gallagher, chief officer at Sunderland CCG, said: “The inspectors have highlighted a number of concerns relating to areas like governance, training and recording systems, as well as noting that patients feel they are treated in a caring and respectful way.

“We are working with NHS England and other partners to help the practice team tackle the issues that have been raised and make the necessary improvements.

“Patients at the practice can continue to use the service in the usual way, and we would encourage anyone who is concerned about the report to contact the practice team.”