'Inadequate' Blackpool GP practice may be forced to close if improvements are not made

A Blackpool GP practice faces closure if it does not improve after the industry watchdog found a raft of failings, including safety concerns for patients.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 3:30 pm

Elizabeth Street Surgery, which has around 5,000 patients on its books, received an overall inadequate rating and was put in special measures by the health industry watchdog Care Quality Commission (CQC) following a visit on May 8.

The inspection was carried out after a tip-off from a whistleblower, with a damning report published yesterday. Outlining their findings, officials said the practice was failing to ensure that care and treatment was being provided in a safe way for patients.

It also discovered that members of the nursing team were vaccinating patients without the right permission, a breach of health and social care regulations.

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Elizabeth Street Surgery in Blackpool
Elizabeth Street Surgery in Blackpool

The practice was also unable to demonstrate that there was sufficient leadership in place and patient feedback and satisfaction levels were described as ‘low’.

Systems to monitor patient complaints were described as ‘ineffective and not working as intended’.

The CQC’s deputy chief inspector for primary medical services, Victoria Watkins said: “Following the inspection of Elizabeth Street Surgery, we told the provider they must make significant improvements in a number of areas to bring the service in line with legal requirements and to keep people safe.

“A new provider has taken over the running of the practice since our last inspection. We will work with the provider and other stakeholders to ensure people receive the high-quality care and treatment they deserve.”

People registered with at the surgery are being been reassured that a new management team has been put in place to make improvements at the practice.

NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it had been made aware of some of the issues being faced at the practice and has worked with nearby Adelaide Street Family Practice to support with the running of the practice for the next six months.

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, inset, a Blackpool GP and clinical director at the CCG, said in a statement: “What this means for patients of Elizabeth Street is that they may see some different faces or hear different voices when attending appointments either physically or over the phone, but services will continue to be provided at Elizabeth Street.

“This is a short-term arrangement for six months while we work with practice staff, patients and wider partners to come to a long-term solution.”

Dr Sanjeev Maharaj, the former managing partner, has now left the practice, however the majority of the remaining staff, including Dr Victor Utomi, are expected to continue working at Elizabeth Street to minimise disruption for patients.

Dr Cruz Augustine, lead partner at Adelaide Street Family Practice, said: “We want to reassure anyone who reads the CQC’s report that we are fully aware of the issues being faced by the practice and, with a new management team in place, working hard to make the necessary improvements.

“In the meantime, any patients of Elizabeth Street who need to contact the practice can do so by calling the usual number.”

The practice will be reinspected by CQC officials within six months of the report, and if not enough improvement has been made it could be forced to close.

Prior to its latest report, the CQC had given the GP practice a rating of ‘good’ overall in May 2019, however the surgery has had problems previously.

In July 2018, it was placed into special measures following an ‘inadequate’ rating from the CQC in which a raft of failings were found. A second inspection in January 2019 also gave the same rating, however improvements were made by the practice to achieve the ‘good’ rating four months later.