Sittingbourne GP practice put in special measures

England’s Chief Inspector of General Practice has placed Iwade Health Centre, in Iwade, Sittingbourne, Kent into special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in June.

The service was rated ‘inadequate’ for being safe, effective and well-led, ‘requires improvement’ for being responsive to people’s needs and ‘good’ for being caring.

The CQC found that staff shortages resulting from the clinical team resigning and the practice relying on locus GPs and nurses increased the risk of harm to people who used the service.

It also found that there was no clear division between the local and corporate leadership structure, and staff were unsure who had responsibility for running the service.

Other issues found were that appropriate recruitment checks had not been undertaken prior to staff being employed, meaning there was insufficient evidence to show that staff had the skills and knowledge to deliver effective care, and there were insufficient processes in place to ensure the proper and safe management of medicines. Additionally, end of life care was not being effectively coordinated.

CQC has placed six urgent conditions on the provider’s registration to ensure the safety of patients, including: a restriction on new patients being registered; action to clear the existing backlog of repeat prescription requests, medication reviews and correspondence; the introduction of a system to ensure repeat prescription requests, medication reviews and correspondence are reviewed and dealt with; an urgent review of patient demand to determine the correct level of service provision and resource; the provision of enough clinical staffing and appointments to deliver a safe service; and the introduction of effective clinical governance systems so that all patients can access timely and safe care.

CQC will continue to monitor the practice working closely with NHS England and Swale Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that patients are able to access a GP.

Ruth Rankine, deputy chief inspector of General Practice CQC’s South region, said: “As a result of this inspection we have placed Iwade Health Centre into special measures – and to protect patients we also placed a number of urgent conditions on the provider’s registration.

“Given the level of concerns we had in June, we have re-inspected the service in July and as a result are now taking further enforcement action with the support of the local clinical commissioning group.

“The report from the July inspection will be issued in due course. As always any enforcement action taken by CQC is subject to appeal and we are unable to comment further at this time.”