Improvements made at Hertfordshire GP practice

England’s Chief Inspector of General Practice has welcomed improvements in the services provided by Whitwell Surgery in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Inspectors identified concerns with regard to the leadership and safety of the practice in an inspection in September 2016. The practice was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed into special measures as a result.

The latest inspection, which took place in June, concluded that the practice had addressed all areas of concern, and awarded the practice with an overall rating of ‘good’ across all five areas for being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Inspectors found that since the original inspection the practice had taken steps to improve leadership, with a focus on improving the quality of its services to patients. Examples of improvements include: an open and transparent approach to safety and a system in place for reporting and recording significant events; clearly defined and embedded systems to minimise risks to patient safety; and patients were treated with compassion, dignity and respect and were involved in their care and decisions about their treatment.

Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, said: “It was disappointing that our inspection earlier this year highlighted concerns, particularly in relation to whether it was safe and well-led.

“I am very pleased to see that since then, the practice has made significant progress, which has led to a much better service for patients resulting in a new rating of ‘good’ across all areas and a removal from ‘special measures’.

“During the latest inspection we found the provider had significantly strengthened their leadership and management and had taken a proactive team approach towards making and sustaining improvements in quality.

“The practice has a clear vision and strategy to deliver high quality care and promote good outcomes for patients. Staff were clear about the vision and their responsibilities in relation to it and the principal GP encouraged a culture of openness and honesty."