Tunbridge Wells GP practice faces closure after report

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A Tunbridge Wells general practitioners has been placed in special measures after a damning report by the Care Quality Commission.

The sanction on the Abbey Court Medical Centre on St John’s Road comes just two weeks after Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Health Trust was placed in special financial measures.

The centre, which is run by Dr Lalta Sachdeva along with two locum GPs, looks after around 4,300 local residents.

Abbey Court received a rating of ‘inadequate’ in three areas – safety, effectiveness and leadership – ‘requires improvement’ for caring, and ‘good’ for ­responsiveness.

The CQC specifically referred to a failure to carry out temperature checks on a fridge which contained vaccines when the nurse who routinely performed the task was absent.

It also found that sharps boxes for used needles were being stored on the floor of the sluice room, which was dirty – and the bottoms of the boxes were not cleaned when they were moved into a clinical area.

It found that staff had not been properly kept up to date with training in areas such as infection control for a period of several years.

No appraisals had been carried out at all for 12 months, and the induction of new members of staff was not being recorded.

The government watchdog found that staffing levels were too low, and were being significantly affected by illness and holidays.

When locum doctors were being recruited, their backgrounds were not being adequately checked, for example if they were registered with the General Medical Council. Similar issues were raised about nursing staff.

The practice did not have any formal systems for recording reports of ‘significant events, incidents and concerns’, the ­resulting ­analysis of these events and the relevant information being passed on to patients.

The inspectors said confidential patient information was being kept in a room where a security keypad had been disabled, and that repeat prescriptions were left out in the open overnight.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, said the centre would be inspected again in six months’ time and that if any of the elements of care marked as ‘inadequate’ had not improved, it would be closed down.

“The service will be kept under review and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action,” he said.

“If there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the ­provider’s registration.”

Abbey Court responded to the report by saying they had been ‘very shocked and disappointed’.

Dr Sachdeva said: “We are taking this report and the issues raised by the CQC extremely seriously and we are doing all we can to deliver the improvements as quickly as possible.”

He said the practice had already set up a new ‘regime of holding regular, formal practice meetings which are fully recorded’.

The clinic has also employed a new member of staff to carry out reception and administration duties using ‘the correct recruitment procedure’.

And it has introduced a ‘Virtual Patient Participation Group’ on its website where patients can make comments and participate in a forum.

“Although some of the areas identified for improvement are relatively simple to put right, others will be more time consuming,” added Dr Sachdeva.

Patients who would like further information on any areas highlighted in the CQC report can contact the practice on 01892 520027 or via email at gp.G82103@nhs.net

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