This site is intended for health professionals only

Practice closed by CQC ‘allowed healthcare assistant to pose as doctor’

CQC inspectors closed down a practice in Nottinghamshire after discovering a healthcare assistant employed by the practice was being allowed to pose as a qualified doctor, it has emerged.

The healthcare assistant was described as a ‘doctor’ by the practice, and diagnosed and treated patients, CQC findings reveal, which has led to more than 400 patients undergoing a clinical review.

The Willows Medical Centre was temporarily closed in June after an unannounced inspection, which rated the practice as inadequate on all areas except provision of caring services, on which it was deemed to require improvement.

Neighbouring practices have been taking on patients registered at the practice, which has some 3,600 patients on its list.

Now the CQC’s full report reveals that among a series of failings, the practice ‘was employing a healthcare assistant who was not registered with any professional body but who was undertaking the tasks of a qualified healthcare professional’, including ‘assessing and diagnosing patients and undertaking internal examinations’.

Further details reveal that this member of staff – employed since March – was ‘known within the practice as a “doctor”, used this title in correspondence and appeared on the appointment system as a doctor’.

The practice had a list of ‘problems’ that could be dealt with by the ‘doctor’, including blood pressure checks, diabetes reviews, vitamin B12 injections, chest infections and checks for throat infections.

The CQC found that the member of staff carried out an internal examination and referral to a gynaecologist, assessment of a possible infection of a feeding tube and assessments of wound and infections, including taking decisions to ask for analysis of samples, details show.

The local CCG said it had been ‘shocked’ by the findings, which were an ‘unacceptable breach of trust’.

NHS North and East Nottingham CCG said 416 patients had undergone a clinical review since the findings emerged, with 70 patients recalled ‘as a precautionary measure’.

The CQC had suspended the practice until September with recommendations for improvements, but GP principle Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro has now resigned, so the CCG is still looking at alternative options for patients in the area.

The practice was also at the centre of controversy for some time prior to the closure, after Dr Nyatsuro was accused of seizing a farm in Zimbabwe under President Mugabe’s land redistribution scheme, with campaigners staging protests outside the surgery.

Dr James Hopkinson, clinical lead for NHS Nottingham North and East CCG, said: ‘We are shocked by the CQC’s findings and we are sorry that the patients served by the Willows Medical Centre have been let down in this way. As Commissioners, we also feel let down by this practice.

‘What has happened is an unacceptable breach of trust and the standards of care we expect for our patients. We want to reassure patients that this is highly unusual and is not representative of the standards upheld by the overwhelming majority of our GPs and practice staff.’