Thousands of patients at a Wigan GP surgery are at risk of losing their service as health watchdogs threaten to shut it down amid mounting safety concerns.
The Dr Anis and Anis practice in Golborne has been threatened with closure by Care Quality Commission inspectors after it was rated as “inadequate” for the second time in less than a year.
It is reportedly the first time this has happened to a doctor’s surgery in Wigan borough.
Based at Kidglove House, the practice currently has more than 4,725 patients on its books, all of whom will have to find a new doctor at already over-pressed other surgeries if it is forced to close.
Following a visit in October, inspectors rated the surgery as inadequate and placed it in special measures.
However the most recent review has unearthed monumental failings within the practice, investigators saying that there have been “insufficient improvements” since last time, causing them to take serious steps towards closure.
Notice of “proposal for cancellation of registration”, has now been issued and managers at Dr Anis and Anis are fast running out of time to appeal or make drastic service improvements.
Amid the lengthy list of shortcomings was poor management of patients on high risk medication, something which inspectors flagged up as “very concerning”.
They found that in some cases, patients were not receiving the monitoring they needed, with reviews of their medication only taking place when the practice was closed when they could not have been there.
Inspectors wrote: “There was no effective system to monitor and carry out medication reviews particularly around patients receiving high-risk medicines.
“A search of the clinical system for patients on high risk medicines showed that some patients had not had the required monitoring or tests to ensure they were not at risk of harm. For example, some patients on high risk medicines were overdue blood tests, and some had not had blood pressure monitoring and weight checks.
“Some patients on high risk medicines were coded as having medication reviews but there was no evidence these had been done.
“There was also evidence that high risk medication that had been discontinued had not been removed from repeat prescribing.”
Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group, which is the authority over all borough GP practices, says that it is taking this “extremely seriously”.
Following the initial CQC results in October, it issued contract breach notices that required immediate improvement in the practice in a number of areas.
These notices were additional to the improvements required by the CQC.
While the practice did make changes in response to a number of the areas of concerns raised by both the CQC and the CCG, they were “not significant enough” to improve the overall rating.
The CCG says it wants to reassure patients at the practice that the it is being taken extremely seriously and that all of the contractual options are being considered to make sure that all patients have access to safe, high quality GP care.
Dr Tim Dalton, chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “This is the first time that we have had a Wigan borough practice in this situation and it is deeply concerning.
“Our main focus is to make sure that the patients are getting safe care and we have a team of people from the CCG working with the practice to both monitor and advise.
“We need to now agree with the practice the best way to radically improve the care as quickly as possible.”
In general, the CQC aims to avoid any patients losing out on their service and therefore tends to follow a programme to try and keep any inadequate sites open for as long as possible.
Typically, if the service doesn’t improve, or gets worse, despite help from the CCG, health watchdogs will look to keep the practice open with help from a neighbouring practice – therefore avoiding patients going without their GP service.
A lot of this will depend on the service’s willingness to improve.
On occasion a provider will relinquish its contract, allowing for new provider to come in and take over the provision of services.
A spokesperson for the CQC, said: “We are proposing to take enforcement action due to recent inspection findings rating the service Inadequate, and will report on it when appropriate.
“Inspectors will return to the service to reinspect to check whether improvements have been made, again a report will be issued at the time.”