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Private APMS provider has three practices put in special measures by CQC

A private APMS provider in the north-west of England has had three of its practices deemed inadequate by the CQC, with a further practice rated as needing improvement.

The GP-led private company SSP Health had its Seaforth Village Surgery, Hightown Surgery and Kensington Park Surgery put into special measures following inspections in March and April.

Local GP leaders said problems stemmed from the competitively tendered contracts for the practices being unviable in the first place.

However, SSP Health said it is in the process of contesting the CQC’s reports of inadequacies at the practices. The provider has had two other practices inspected so far, both of which were given a ‘good’ rating.

The three practices are among only 28 to be given a rating of inadequate across the whole of England so far.

In the inspection reports, the CQC said that its practices:

  • Put patients ‘at risk of harm because systems and processes were not in place to keep them safe’ (Seaforth);
  • Failed to report safety incidents (Seaforth);
  • Did not have adequte leadership (Seaforth & Hightown);
  • Failed to put in place systems to promote patient safety were not embedded at practice level (Hightown);
  • Was ‘not caring towards patients’ (Hightown);
  • Failed to carry out ‘sufficiently thorough’ reviews and investigations, while ‘lessons learnt were not communicated widely enough to support improvement’ (Kensington Park).

But Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of Liverpool LMC, said SSP Health had taken on the practices under difficult circumstances after the LMC had pointed out the contracts put out to tender by Liverpool PCT in the first place were not deliverable.

Dr Barnett said: ‘The LMC was critical of the contract but the PCT nevertheless decided it was safe and went ahead with the tender.

‘In our view, the contract wasn’t doable because it required the provider to deliver 70 appointments per 1,000 patients per week – to staff the practices with that sort of ratio, whether regulated or not, is extremely difficult and requires a lot of doctors to be moved around.’

SSP Health – which runs around 40 practices in all – has so far had two other practices inspected by the CQC.  Its Everton Road Surgery and Thornton Practice were both found to be ‘good’ earlier in the year.

The provider told Pulse it rejected the criticisms of the other four practices and is waiting for the outcome of a CQC review of their ratings.

In a statement, SSP Health joint owner Dr Shikha Pitalia said: ‘We are concerned that some CQC inspectors have been inconsistent in their approach and made contradictory statements in the report failing to follow the CQC’s own processes in reaching conclusions.’

Dr Pitalia added: ‘There is concern that during a volatile time for the NHS, the CQC teams who inspected some of our practices have perhaps been unduly influenced by politically-motivated comments from groups and lobbies opposed to any change in the NHS.

‘We have formally asked for some rating to be reviewed and await the CQC website to be updated with this request, submitted almost four weeks ago. We are told that the CQC has a backlog of requests.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • so the private sector isn't always the best. Profit before quality .

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  • Few years ago ,one of the owner GP`s was called to many meetings to present on in hours visiting service which to my knowledge didn`t work anywhere else.
    How times have changed now?
    That said they worked where nobody else would-so some service is better than no service (for those patients) but the myth of universally excellent service is not practical on same budget as patient demand and workload vary vastly across the country.
    One wouldn`t expect Virgin/BA quality at Ryanair prices would they?

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  • The results of CQCs actions has so far been to cause further damage to affected practices. Everyone directly involved are trying to address CQCs concerns.

    The political nature of CQC, and APMS, have both lead to making this situation more complex and difficult to follow.

    NHS England has been responsible for these contracts since its inception. The PCT drew up the contracts for procurement with the support of the regional health authority just as they were both winding down to closure.

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  • Seems black and white. Give the evidence or don't get a tick. If you have evidence show it.
    This is the world we live in sadly.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Rob is our secretary NOT the chair of Liverpool LMC

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 07 May 2015 4:37pm

    this is the private sector owned by a GP.

    not much different to a GP subcontractor running multiple practices.

    I think the point is that these practices simply weren;'t viable in the first place.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The evil of competition created by tendering is giving the stakeholders , whether PCTs or NHSE/CCGs , the temptation to go for the 'cheapest for most items' sacrificing real qualities . With section 75 , CCGs ' freedom to go for competition or not has been further stifled . One probably cannot blame the competitors , whether private or non profit making , would try their best to please the 'emperors' so as to win the contract....,.

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  • it appears to be a race to the bottom - private or nhs the funds are drying up.

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  • Whether NHS or private basic administration staff stepping up to management with no qualifications, no geniune business ability,far lower IQs than the people they manage.This is the reality of most practice managers many of whom can,t cope with the demands but worse still when they fail they will be promoted to the CCGs on s background of alleged past achievements who no one in fact ever checks.if they did they would find a long list of basic courses attended and no actual managerial transformation (all based on fact)!!

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  • Comment at 812pm is general comment about NHS and private practices across UK and not any specific practice

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