Leeds medical centre vows to improve after 'inadequate' rating

Newly appointed partners at a Leeds medical practice which has been rated 'inadequate' by a health watchdog have vowed to improve the service.

The practice was rated "inadequate".
The practice was rated "inadequate".

The Highfield Medical Centre in Bramley has been placed in special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in August.

Inspectors rated the Highfield Road practice “inadequate” for safety, effectiveness and how well-led it was and “good” for responsiveness and how caring it was. Overall it has been rated as inadequate.

The CQC had previously carried out an announced comprehensive inspection there in December 2016, after which it was rated as "requires improvement" overall.

The watchdog found that some issues from that inspection had not been addressed.

The report highlights a number of a concerns, including that patients were at risk of harm because systems and processes were not in place to keep them safe.

For example, inspectors saw no evidence that Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA), or other patient safety alerts were discussed by the clinical team.

Some of the employees the watchdog spoke with told inspectors there was a shortage of staff or that the workload was too high in order to carry out their role safely.

There was little or no evidence of audits or quality improvement activity within the practice, the watchdog found.

Alison Holbourn, deputy chief inspector of General Practice for the North, said: “I expect providers should use our inspection reports to help address their problems and rectify them as a matter of urgency. I am therefore disappointed to learn that following an inspection in December 2016 this service has deteriorated. I had hoped there would be an improvement.

“It was concerning to report that on the day of our inspection we found that patient referrals to other services were not always being carried out in a timely way.

"We saw a number of referrals, dating back to July 2017 which had not been actioned. This represents very poor practice.

“There were other areas of poor practice that reflected poorly on the management of the service. For example, clinical meetings were not always minuted due to lack of secretarial support.

"This meant there was a risk of important information being missed by some members of the team.

“It is important that the people who are registered with The Highfield Medical Centre can rely on getting high quality care. The service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service.”

Dr Mark Fuller, recently appointed GP partner, said: "The report makes for difficult reading and it is disappointing that the practice has fallen short in some key areas.

"It is clear to me that our team have been let down by insufficient systems and processes to support them, and whilst the report does not cast doubt on their competence and professionalism towards patients, it does outline that we must do better to support staff to enable them to provide the high quality care patients expect from an NHS GP service.

"In the five weeks since I joined the partnership, I am convinced that we have the skills, dedication and ambition to address all the issues raised by the CQC and I am confident that over the next few months we will be able to transform the practice.

"As part of our change programme, our patients can look forward to a 50 per cent increase in the number of appointments available in the New Year, and at more accessible times.

"Further, we will be embarking on a full building refurbishment to ensure that the premises are welcoming and meet the standards of a modern 21st Century health centre.

"We will be launching a patient involvement and volunteer programme to provide opportunities for our community to contribute and have real influence on decisions about the practice as well as give something back to the community.

Methven Forbes, recently appointed managing partner, said: "We apologise to our patients for not providing the level of care they expect.

"I can assure patients and the wider community that we are working closely with Leeds West CCG and the Care Quality Commission to address the issues identified.

"Both Dr Mark Fuller and myself have significant experience in delivering high quality healthcare rated as Outstanding by CQC.

"As new Partners of the Highfield Medical Centre, we can assure patients that we will address the issues raised in the latest CQC report and deliver the high quality GP services our patients expect.

"To aid in this process, we will be publishing our action plan in the New Year so that our patients, local stakeholders and other key partners can see how we will deliver better, improved care for our patients. By publishing our plan on our website, Patients and partners will have an opportunity to contribute and hold us to account."