Patients at two Peterborough GP services are being reassured after their struggles were laid bare in reports by the independent watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has in the last five months decided to suspend the providers at Botolph Bridge Community Health Centre in Sugar Way and Dogsthorpe Medical Centre in Poplar Avenue, with caretakers brought into run services.
Dr Alistair Lipp, medical director for NHS England (East) said improvement plans have been put in place at the practices.
He added: “NHS England is working with these practices and NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that any improvements needed happen quickly so patients have access to high quality GP services.”
The Peterborough Telegraph wrote last week that Botolph Bridge Community Health Centre in Sugar Way was suspended for just shy of three months until mid-November last year due to concerns for patient safety.
The story was sourced from a CQC report where inspectors stated: “We took urgent action to suspend 3Well Ltd Botolph Bridge from providing general medical services at 3Well Ltd Botolph Bridge.”
The PT asked a CQC spokeswoman whether this meant patients were not being seen. She replied: “Yes that’s right, patients were instructed to visit alternative practices whilst the suspension was underway.”
We then rang Botolph Bridge asking to speak to the practice manager who we were told was not available. We left a name and number for her to contact us, but did not hear back.
After the story was published, readers contacted us to say they had been seen by GPs at the practice while the suspension was in place.
We then returned to the CQC asking for clarification on the matter.
The response was: “At Botolph, from August 24, 2016, nearby Thorpe Road Surgery temporarily took over the running of the practice. This was organised by NHS England and the Clinical Commissioning Group who are responsible for providing cover in the event of any CQC enforcement action.
“They contacted all patients to inform them of these changes and what to do. Patients could still contact the same practice number as usual for appointments.
“Patients did not have to change GP practice but were notified that Thorpe Road Surgery would be looking after the running of the practice to ensure services could continue to be provided.
“These actions are always done on a way to minimise any disruption for patients.”
The PT has again tried to contact the practice for comment but has received no response. Botolph Bridge remains in special measures having first been given an ‘inadequate’ rating last August.
Regarding Dogsthorpe Medical Centre, which was run by First Health, a CQC spokeswoman said: “The suspension began on September 15 and was due to run until December 15, however First Health’s contract was not continued after September 30.
“McClaren Perry Ltd then began the process of registering and took over the service from this time.”
She added that First Health “was suspended from carrying out regulated activities (what they are registered to provide as GPs) at this location, but patients will not have noticed because NHS England had immediate contingency plans and brought in a cover provider overnight. Patients may well have seen many of the staff who were retained by the cover provider.”
The latest CQC report in November said the practice had failed to show it had met the requirements to keep patients safe.
The PT spoke to the practice manager who said a caretaking company was now in charge, but that she could not add any further information without being authorised by NHS England.