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Trust-led practice rated ‘inadequate’ as GP shortage left no doctors on site

A trust-led practice in Derbyshire has been rated as ‘inadequate’ by the CQC after it was found that a shortage of GPs left no doctors on one of the three sites operated by the provider.

Royal Primary Care, an arm of the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, was first appointed as caretaker of three practice sites in May 2015 after its previous provider struggled to recruit GPs.

However, the recent CQC inspection of the 21,500-patient practice revealed that recruitment was still an issue with staff reporting instances where no GP was available on one of the three sites.

GP leaders said this was indicative of hospital trusts having little experience of providing primary care.

It comes as Pulse has reported on a number of trusts taking over GP practices, overseeing a salaried GP service.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was first appointed as caretaker of the three surgeries in May 2015 when Holywell Group Practice, which had suffered long-running recruitment woes, was faced with the sudden departure of several GPs.

According to the CQC report the trust, which holds an APMS contract for the practices for 15 years, employs nine salaried GPs to run the three sites at The Grange Family Health Centre, Rectory Road Medical Centre and Inkersall Family Health Centre.

However, the report says inspectors ‘observed queues for reception when the practice opened in the morning’, with patients facing ‘significant problems in contacting the practice by telephone’.

Furthermore, the report says there were ‘occasions when no GP was available on site at the Inkersall location’.

But it added: ‘Royal Primary Care demonstrated that they were actively trying to recruit more GPs to address this issue.’

Dr Peter Holden, treasurer of Derbyshire LMC, told Pulse he wasn’t surprised by the rating, saying: ‘The people there do their best, the managers are dreadful.’

He said: ‘Many of these hospital trusts have no track record in providing primary care, they don’t understand it and recruitment is difficult at the best of times for all of us.

‘And frankly what is a trainee going to choose, a fire fighting life-boat bailout scenario of Royal Primary Care or a stable training practice to work in. It’s a no brainer.’

Dr John Ashcroft, a GP in Derbyshire, said the rating should serve as a ‘wake up call’ for trusts who think running a GP practice is easy.

He added that recruiting in Derbyshire is already difficult, with this CQC rating set to ‘make it even more difficult to recruit, again’.

A spokesperson for the trust told Pulse that the practices has employed a mix of skills in the practice to ease the pressure on GPs.

He said: ‘They work as a practice team, supporting our GPs to ensure that patients get to see the most appropriate professional quickly.

‘We have also introduced a portfolio career opportunity for GPs, which will enable them to increase their skills and knowledge by working in their chosen area such as Emergency Care. This has prompted some interest.

‘Where we use locums we ensure that they are long term and become part of the practice team.’