A GP has lost his case against the CQC after taking legal action in a bid to re-open his practice following the regulator’s decision to deny him registration.
Dr Mujib ul Haq Khan of Granville Road Surgery in London, took the CQC to a tribunal court after disputing several of the regulator’s inspection findings, which lead to it being immediately closed.
However, his appeal has been ‘unanimously dismissed’ in the judgment handed down today.
The tribunal hearing represented the first time legal action has been taken against the CQC by a GP – a move which the GPC claimed could see more practices taking similar action, should it be successful legal action against the regulator.
The CQC inspected Dr Khan’s practice on 6 January and identified several failings, rating it ‘inadequate’ in dealing with all six population groups, including elderly and vulnerable patients, and in how safe, effective and well-led the practice was.
It subsequently returned to the practice on 9 January to personally deliver a ‘Notice of Urgent Suspension’, which led to the practice being closed.
During the tribunal hearing, which took place on 26 March, Dr Khan denied several of the regulator’s allegations including patients being put at avoidable risk, checks on staff had not being undertaken prior to their employment, and that the practice did not have systems in place for responding to risk.
But the tribunal hearing’s final judgment found that the lack of any adequate induction procedures for new locum doctors and the absence of any Disclosure and Barring Service check was indicative of ‘Dr Khan’s careless, passive and reactive approach to the management of his practice.’
The tribunal hearing’s judgement papers stated: ‘Whatever may have been the details of the circumstances, it is beyond doubt that there was not what there should have been, namely easy, well-known and established access to the appropriate medication in case of emergency.
‘That, in the Tribunal’s view was indicative of Dr Khan’s careless, passive and reactive approach to the management of his practice. Other examples were provided by the lack of any adequate induction procedure for new locum doctors, the absence of any Disclosure and Barring Service check, hepatitis status check or references, the lack of child protection or adult safeguarding policies and of adequate staff fire training.’
It went on to add that Dr Khan’s practice will remain closed.
‘Accordingly, the Tribunal unanimously dismisses Dr Khan’s appeal and confirms the CQC’s decision of 8th January 2015 to suspend for four months his registration as a service provider at the Granville Road surgery,’ it stated.
Dr Khan has said he will not appeal the ruling.
The CQC’s deputy chief inspector of general practice, Ruth Rankine, said: ‘We were confident we had taken the right decision to protect people and I am delighted that the tribunal agreed we did the right thing. ‘This case saw repeated breaches of the law and patients were being put at risk.
‘We do not take enforcement action lightly, but are satisfied that the tribunal has agreed with our assessment that patients were at risk at this practice.’ ‘When necessary, we will use our powers and do what it takes to make sure patients and the public are protected.’
Dr Khan said: ‘I am disappointed by the decision of the tribunal, but I am grateful that it acknowledged my practice had run for 33 years, “without incident” and with very few complaints. I have been with the NHS for 45 years.
‘This is after all a decision by the CQC based largely on issues such as the keeping of records, fire risk assessments, extension cables and hypothetical scenarios. The decision to close my surgery did not relate to any actual treatment of my patients, for which no criticism has ever been made by either the GMC or the CQC.’
He added: ‘Those who have lost most are my patients who have been forced, against their will, to find alternative surgeries to care for them, breaking the doctor/patient relationship which was in many cases, over 30 years old.’