GP practice put into special measures after standards ‘diminish’

Fitzalan Medical Centre in Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, run by Fitzalan Medical Group. Picture: Google
Fitzalan Medical Centre in Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, run by Fitzalan Medical Group. Picture: Google

A Littlehampton GP surgery has been put into special measures after a deterioration in the quality of its services.

Fitzalan Medical Group in Fitzalan Road had previously been rated as ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission during an inspection in November 2015.

However, it was rated ‘inadequate’ after an inspection in December 2017, carried out in response to concerns raised by the coroner.

The findings of the report were published today, and identified the surgery as being ‘inadequate’ for being safe, effective and well-led, and ‘good’ for being caring and responsive.

This comes after continued pressures on GP surgeries in the town, fuelled by 7,500 patients being dispersed to other surgeries after the closure of Arun Medical Group’s East Street practice in 2016.

Ruth Rankine, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice for the South of England, said: “I find it concerning that the high quality, consistent good care we found at our first inspection has diminished. While it is good to see that staff are still providing a caring service there needs to be an improvement in the control of its medicines for the sake of its patients. As a result of these concerns I have recommended the practice will benefit from being placed into special measures, so the service can receive the support it needs to improve.

“We will continue to monitor progress and we will inspect again within six months to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. I am hopeful that the practice will do what is required for the sake of their patients but if we find that the service remains inadequate, we will consider taking further enforcement action even if that leads to cancelling its registration.”

Fitzalan Medical Group was due to jointly run a new surgery with Westcourt Medical Centre at the Enterprise Hub next to Morrisons in Wick – plans which fell through last year after NHS bosses dragged their heels in making progress.

A specialist team which conducted the inspection consisted of a CQC lead inspector, GP specialist adviser, a second CQC inspector, a practice manager adviser and a member of the CQC medicines team.

Key findings of the inspection included that systems for managing medicines were unsafe. This included inadequate repeat prescribing processes and poor monitoring and review of patients on high risk or repeat medicines.

Patients with long-term conditions did not always have a structured annual review, and not all risks were consistently or adequately mitigated.

Learning was not consistently shared and used to make improvements, the CQC report found, and there was no comprehensive audit plan for the practice and no evidence of current auditing of clinical performance.

Furthermore, the report outlined that Leaders did not evidence that they had the skills and capacity to address risks and deliver high quality sustainable care.