Washington GP surgery rated inadequate - as some staff were not subject to background checks

Harraton Surgery, Swiss Cottages, Washington.
Harraton Surgery, Swiss Cottages, Washington.
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A GP practice in Washington has been rated 'inadequate' by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The damning report was published after a specialist team of inspectors visited Harraton Surgery on September, rating it inadequate for being safe and well-led.

The practice also requires improvement for being effective and responsive, while it was rated 'good' for being caring.

However the CQC has now given the surgery overall rating of 'inadequate'.

Under CQC’s new programme of inspections led by Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, all of England’s GP practices are being inspected and given a rating.

Harraton Surgery was inspected by an inspection team which included a GP specialist advisor, and a practice nurse.

Inspectors received positive feedback from patients they spoke to during the inspection. Patients said they were treated with compassion and dignity and felt involved in decisions made about their care and treatment. Patients said they were usually able to get an appointment with a GP when they needed one, although some felt they waited too long to be called in for their appointment.

Staff understood their responsibilities to raise concerns, and to report incidents and near misses. However, when things went wrong, reviews and investigations were not sufficiently thorough, and lessons learned were not communicated widely enough to support improvement.

Appropriate checks on staff had not been undertaken prior to their employment, and not all staff who acted as chaperones had been subject to Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) checks.

Staffing levels within the administrative and cleaning staff teams were low, and there were significant gaps in the mandatory training that staff were expected to complete. This included fire safety, information governance and safeguarding training.

Staff were not involved in discussions about how to run and develop the practice, or encouraged to identify opportunities to improve the service delivered by the practice.

The Care Quality Commission has identified a number of areas for improvement, including:

The practice must put effective systems in place to manage and monitor the prevention and control of infection.

The practice must take action to ensure the fridges used for storing vaccines are fit for purpose and minimum and maximum temperatures are checked.

The practice must ensure that there are formal governance arrangements in place, including systems for assessing and monitoring the quality of the service provision.

The practice must provide appropriate training for all staff, including training on fire safety, infection control, safeguarding and information governance.

The practice must review staffing levels within the administrative and cleaning staff teams to ensure sufficient staff are deployed.

CQC has been working closely with NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group 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 Harraton Surgery can rely on getting the high quality care which everyone is entitled to receive from their GP.

“While we received some positive feedback from patients about their care and treatment, we also found some significant areas of concern. 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.

“With the right support, I expect this practice to be transformed. After a period of six months we will inspect again to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. If we find that the service provided by this practice remains inadequate, we will consider taking steps to cancel its registration with CQC.”

Patients registered with practices being placed into special measures should be aware that the package of support being offered by NHS England and the Royal College of GPs will ensure that there are no immediate risks to patient safety at these GP practices whilst improvements are being made. These practices will not close.

A full report of this inspection has been published on the CQC website today at http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-1737302413