SERIOUS concerns have been raised about a Basingstoke GP surgery in a report issued by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which has rated it as “inadequate”.

Crown Heights Medical Centre, in Alencon Link, has warned its patients that it cannot keep up with demand and is unable to recruit new doctors, after the damning report, published last week, said patients were at “risk of harm”.

Professor Steven Field, chief inspector of general practices, has put the surgery in “special measures” after it was graded “inadequate” for safety and leadership.

The CQC report found:

  • Patients were at risk of harm because systems and processes were not implemented in a way to keep them safe.
  • Some patients with long term conditions were not supported to effectively manage their health and care needs.
  • Infection control procedures were not understood or followed.
  • Staff had not all received the relevant pre-employment checks or appropriate training.
  • Systems for assessing and monitoring risks and the quality of the service provision for patients required improvement.
  • The practice was unable to demonstrate if staff had completed appropriate training.
  • While the majority of patients said they were treated with compassion, dignity and respect, not all felt cared for, supported and listened to.
  • Feedback from patients was not always considered or action taken to make improvements.
  • Daily cleaning checks were not always completed.
  • Patients had difficulty in accessing a named GP.
  • The practice had no clear leadership structure.

Prof Field reported that patients did not receive “timely care” because the appointment systems were not working well.

He added: “Patients told us that they could be on hold for up to half-an-hour before speaking to a receptionist.”

The report follows a statement released by the surgery’s partners about difficulties booking a routine appointment.

It said: “Demand upon our service exceeds our capacity to provide routine doctor and nursing appointments.”

It said it had not been able to recruit new GPs.

As a result, the surgery is experiencing a high demand for urgent appointments which has created an additional strain.

Crown Heights has at least 200 patient contacts per day, for a system that was devised for 150, and it provides 7,600 routine appointments a month.

The statement added: “We understand and empathise with our patient population and appreciate how frustrating this situation is for you. The solutions are complex and will take time to deliver.”

It said it was not “legally” allowed to refuse new patients within “our recognised boundaries”.

Crown Heights was graded as “requires improvement” for its effectiveness, how caring it is and how it responds to people’s needs.

The practice was graded as “inadequate” for its care of older people, those with long-term conditions, families, children and young people, working age people, vulnerable people and those with mental health issues.

The report did, however, highlight some examples of good practice, including that 87 per cent of patients diagnosed with dementia had their care reviewed in face-to-face meetings in the last year; it offers longer appointments to patients with a learning disability; it offers an online booking system; and it has an above average uptake for the cervical screening programme.

The surgery has been placed in “special measures” meaning it will be inspected again within six months.

If insufficient improvements have been made the CQC will take enforcement action, which could result in it closing down.

Ruth Rankine, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of general practice in the south, said: “It is important that people who are registered with Crown Heights Medical Centre can rely on the high quality care which everyone is entitled to receive from their GP.

“We found significant areas of concern, which is why we are placing the practice into special measures – opening the way to support from NHS England among others.

“We will continue to monitor this practice and we will inspect again in six months to check whether improvements have been made. I believe that the practice will do what is required for the sake of its patients.”

A statement from the Crown Heights Partnership said it is “disappointed” with the rating, adding: “We accept in full the CQC’s findings and are very grateful to our CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) and NHS England for their help and support in drawing up a comprehensive action plan which will address all the issues raised; a number of actions have already been completed.

"We would like to apologise unreservedly to patients and staff for any concern that this report may have caused and reassure them of our commitment to deliver the highest quality care in the future.”

Read The Gazette's opinion here.