The CQC took the unusual step to close a GP practice immediately, after discovering that it was putting patients at ‘serious risk of harm’, including hiring an ‘unqualified individual’ to cover consultations.
Goodwood Court Medical Centre, in Hove, East Sussex, was given an overall CQC inspection rating of ‘inadequate’ after the regulator found it to be in breach of seven key standards of Health and Social Care Act.
Following a series of unannounced inspections at the practice on 4, 8, and 9 June, the CQC said that the practice was failing in all areas including being ‘safe, effective, caring, having responsive services and being well led’.
Among the issues highlighted by the CQC were that the levels of GP cover were of a ‘significant and immediate concern and placed patients at risk of harm’ – and on one of the days of the inspection only two patients were seen by a GP.
Other patients were seen by a nurse practitioner or another individual who was not a GP or nurse; the CQC said there was ‘no evidence that he was qualified to practise as a GP or a physician’s assistant’.
The CQC said that on the basis of the issues it had identified at the practice over the course of its inspections, it had cancelled the practice’s registration. The regulator has insisted that patients affected by the closure have been transferred to another local practice.
The practice’s CQC inspection report said: ‘We found the levels of GP cover to be of significant and immediate concern and placed patients at risk of harm. We found that with the exception of two patients, all patients had either been seen by the nurse practitioner or another individual who was not a GP or nurse.
‘We were told by staff that this person was identified to them as a physician’s assistant. We asked to see the individual’s recruitment checks and the lead GP provided a CV. No other information could be seen as the practice had not carried out robust checks on this individual. There was no evidence that he was qualified to practise as a GP or a physician’s assistant.’
Some of the other problems at the surgery highlighted by the CQC included:
- Appropriate recruitment checks on staff had not been undertaken prior to their employment and actions identified to address concerns with infection control practice had not been taken
- Staff were not clear about reporting incidents, near misses and concerns and there was no evidence of learning and communication with staff
- Medicine management practices were unsafe and placed patients at serious risk of harm – this included requests for prescriptions
- The practice had no clear leadership structure, insufficient leadership capacity and limited formal governance arrangements
- Multiple breaches of regulations relating to: effective management; monitoring and improving outcomes for people; effective staffing; working with colleagues and other services; consent to care and treatment; and health promotion and prevention.
Earlier in the week, Pulse reported that the CQC would be changing the way it organises its practice inspections, assigning a named lead inspector for each CCG area from October 2015 in a bid to improve the relationships between practices and inspectors.