GP Practice taken over by Virgin Care goes from outstanding to inadequate in 18 months

16th May 2018

Essex GP practice taken over by Virgin Care is placed in Special Measures after going from outstanding to inadequate in under 2 years.

GPonline reports today that the healthcare regulator for England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the Sutherland Lodge GP practice in Chelmsford, Essex inadequate (the lowest available rating) only around 20 months after awarding an outstanding rating.

Sutherland Lodge practice was taken over by the private provider, Virgin Care, in July 2016. At the time of the takeover, the practice was rated outstanding, an achievement only reached by around 4% of GP practices throughout England.

The latest inspection report, published on 14th May 2018, by the CQC reveals that the surgery is now rated inadequate overall. The report is based upon an inspection that was carried out on 7th December 2017, a mere 18 months after Virgin Care took over the running of the practice. Inspectors have placed the practice in special measures and warned that if improvements are not made within six months, Virgin Care Services Limited (which currently manages 18 primary care services across the country, including GP practices, walk-in centres and urgent care centres) could lose the 10-year contract that it holds to run the surgery.

Darren Tamplin-Compton, Senior Solicitor and Team Leader within Fletcher’s Medical Negligence Team said: “Most worryingly, the CQC rated this GP practice as inadequate for both safety and leadership. Inspectors identified that risks to patients were not being appropriately assessed or their safety monitored and managed so they were supported to stay safe. There was a lack of clinical oversight to ensure information received regarding new diagnosis and medicine changes were not completed in a timely way. Patients with complex needs for example learning disabilities and older patients were not receiving their care in line with guidance. Medicines and associated equipment were not always in date or stored at the correct temperature and nursing staff tasked with monitoring did not take action when temperatures were above recommended levels. There was a corporate system for the handling of complaints, however, this did not include cascading the learning to staff working at the practice or ongoing monitoring. Action was not always taken to improve the quality of care as a result.”

Concluding, Darren said “One would have hoped for much, much, better from the healthcare arm of the global giant, Virgin, which on its website claims that ‘Sir Richard [Branson] is passionate about health and care and… decided to create Virgin Care because he believes that health and care services can be delivered in a more innovative way that focuses not only on the important outcomes but also every person’s experience of care’.”

The full CQC report published on 14th May 2018 can be found here. 

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