West Norfolk GP surgeries ‘have risk factors’

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Four West Norfolk GP surgeries have been listed as having risk factors that put them in most urgent need of an inspection from regulators.

The judgement became public after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) decided to publish its new Intelligent Monitoring Report for the first time. The report is designed to help the CQC decide where to visit first.

Around one in six surgeries across the country were put into Band One or Two, deemed most in need of an inspection.

Some practitioners believe publication of the report is unhelpful to patients, saying it is based on raw, unexplained and sometimes out-of-date data.

Kathy Foley is practice manager at St James Medical Practice, in County Court Road, Lynn, which was one of those given a Band One grade.

She said: “Our main priority here at St James is to provide first class patient care to all of our patient population.

“We are extremely disappointed to receive a Band 1 priority banding for inspection. The reports were published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with no practice being given the opportunity to feedback/comment or update them on our current position. When registration with the CQC became compulsory for GP practices, St James, along with a number of other practices, invested a great deal of time and money to bring their practice in line with the standards stipulated by the CQC.

“The four risk factors highlighted in our report are historical and following the above investment no longer reflects the practices current position.

“GP practices are already under immense pressure to meet government targets, budgets have been cut, contracts are under review and workload has trebled. This report has done nothing but demoralise our workforce further. I can see no value in the publication of these reports.”

Darren Martin, practice manager at Howdale Surgery, also listed as Band One said it was unhelpful to patients to view this report in isolation. His surgery was inspected in July 2013 and no concerns were raised.

He said: “They have already been here and given us an inspection and given us a clean bill of health – the report they came back with was glowing, but we are more than happy for them to come again.

“They had to come up with some kind of system to decide who to go to first and we fully understand that. My concern is that now they have changed the system, they could be going back to practices they have already been to while another practice may go two or three years without being visited by the CQC.”

Also placed in Band One were Downham’s Bridge Street Surgery and The Burnhams Surgery, Burnham Market.

Bridge Street Surgery has also already had a recent inspection. In September this year, the CQC found it was meeting required standards in all areas, barring one. A concern was raised over paper trails for ensuring new staff had submitted CVs and references and the report noted action was being taken to address that. The CQC’s website states: “The bands have been assigned based on the proportion of indicators that have been identified as a ‘risk’ or an ‘elevated risk’.

“The bandings and indicators support the wider inspection approach and sources of information available to our teams.

“They should prompt NHS GP practices to ask questions, reflect and (if appropriate) take action in respect of their own performance in relation to others.”