Failings revealed in one in three UK GP practices

The UK‘s worst GP surgeries have been listed after innovative new spot-checks were carried out by the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) on 1000 practices in England, many of which were targeted after concerns. The result of these spot-checks was the finding that one in three GP practices (34%) were not meeting basic standards of care. Ten in particular were found to have “very serious failings” and could be forced to close.

These investigations uncovered failings included practices that were “visibly dirty” with two practices that were found to have maggots in the treatment rooms. Recurrent failings through many of the surgeries were out of date oxygen cylinders, a failure to keep a register of children at risk of abuse and doctors who were unable to use basic lifesaving equipment. Moreover, Professor Steven Field, the CQC’s new chief inspector of general practice, said “we found some surgeries where there were out of date vaccines in the fridge” – rendering them potentially useless leaving patients exposed to deadly diseases.

Perhaps, the most disconcerting thing revealed was that there was found to be a lack of competence by GPs and that many were simply “not up to it” – many of which were relying on “tick box” systems that could potentially leave many patients with cancer undiagnosed.

Another regular theme of the investigation was difficulty in getting access to see a GP. This leads to further problems as there is a risk that patients who cannot get an appointment will then decide not to try to see a doctor again until it is too late.

Following on from these spot-checks it is intended that all GP practices will be given an individual rating within the next two years due the concern raised about the standard of care provided by many practices.

Although the inspections did find many good examples of patient care, it is the “unacceptable variations” in quality that need to be dealt with.

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