Out of hours GP service slammed for ‘unsafe care and untrained staff’

Huntingdon office of West Cambridgeshire Federation Community Interest Company. It has been told to

Huntingdon office of West Cambridgeshire Federation Community Interest Company. It has been told to take action to put matters right by the health watchdog.It runs the out of hours GP service that covers Cornerstone Surgery in March and has been slammed for 'unsafe care and untrained staff'. Picture; Submitted - Credit: Archant

Seven doctors and four nurses used by an out of hours GP service that also covers the March area did not have a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check before they were hired, says an inspection report.

The checks are needed to identify whether a person has a criminal record or is on a list of those barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. The findings form part of a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into the out-of-hours doctor service run by the West Cambs Federation Community Interest Company. It has been told to take action to put matters right.

The CQC rated services operates locally out of the Cornerstone surgery in Elwyn Road, March, and three others in Huntingdonshire as inadequate.

However Sarah Fox, manager at Cornerstone Practice, said it was important to differentiate between Cornerstone Surgery and Cornerstone Practice.

"A lot of people in the town believe that the story is about us and not the federation as they do not understand that there are two separate entities that are operating out of the same building with very similar names," she said.

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"The findings and CQC rating are in no way associated with the Cornerstone Practice; we have received a rating of good from the CQC on our last two assessment visits the last one being November 2018.

"The federation covers all the March surgeries; it is just based at the Cornerstone site."

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The federation was given individual inadequate ratings for safety of services, effectiveness of services and being well-led. They were all given "good" ratings over whether services were caring and being responsive to people's needs.

The federation offers evening and weekend services to around 200,000 patients from 28 GP practices. It was founded in 2015 and started offering routine GP services from surgeries it uses last September.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, chief inspector of primary medical services and integrated care, said in her CQC report: "I am placing this service in special measures. Services placed in special measures will be inspected again within six months."

The CQC said there had been "multiple breaches" and that the service had not ensured care and treatment was always provided in a safe way; patients were not adequately protected from avoidable harm and abuse. It was critical of the organisation's leadership.

A spokesman for the federation said they delivered the improved access service for evening and weekend routine, non-urgent clinical appointments from four hubs.

The hubs were existing GP surgeries which they operated from, had their own CQC inspections, were not the providers being inspected but were the registered addresses for the service.

The spokesman said: "West Cambs Federation has been running the improved access service since Sept 2018. We took on the service at short notice and worked to get it up and running.

"The CQC inspection highlighted the challenges that we had faced. We accept the rating and we developed an action plan within 24 hrs. We have worked closely with the CQC and CCG to ensure that our action plan addresses the issues raised.

"It is important to say that the issues raised during the inspection were systemic, organisational issues and at no point has there been any question that our brilliant staff delivers an excellent service to patients.

"The patient feedback that we collect clearly demonstrates that they value the service we provide. We employ staff who already works within GP practices across west Cambridgeshire.

"At the time of the inspection we had a number of colleagues who did not have their DBS check complete for this role. Despite them having a DBS for their main primary care role, they also need a further DBS check to work for an additional employer.

"We now have 100 per cent of our workforce with up to date DBS checks.

"However, we did not have adequate processes for checking mandatory training requirements. In addition, we were not carrying out appropriate auditing and monitoring."

The spokesman added: "Since the inspection, our board membership has changed and we are developing new and robust governance structures. We have started to deliver training to our workforce and we are introducing a number of new/revised policies and procedures."

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