Welwyn Garden City GP practice rated ‘inadequate’
PUBLISHED: 09:22 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 25 January 2017
A GP practice has been put into special measures after it emerged high-risk drugs were being prescribed without vital checks.
Welwyn Garden City’s Peartree Group Practice, which serves 22,000 people at branches in Peartree Lane, Moors Walk and Hollybush Lane, was branded “inadequate” in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report published yesterday.
During last October’s inspection, officers checked prescriptions of methotrexate – a potentially dangerous drug used to treat cancer and arthritis – which requires three-monthly full blood count (FBC) tests.
Inspectors wrote: “We looked at five patient records and found three of these patients had been prescribed methotrexate without an up to date record of their FBC.
“The practice did not have a written policy in place for repeat prescribing or high-risk medicine monitoring.”
However, a practice GP stressed it has since adopted “fail-safe protocols” to address the issue.
The report also found Peartree did not effectively document significant events – with only six recorded since April 2015 – and claimed it had “insufficient clinical leadership capacity”.
In addition, inspectors rated the practice inadequate for providing safe services for all six population groups – including children, elderly people and other vulnerable patients.
“During our inspection we found that the disabled toilet did not have a call bell to alert staff in the event of an emergency,” the report read. “Shortly after the practice told us it was making arrangements for a bell to be installed.”
However, Peartree was rated good for providing caring services.
Inspectors noted that staff were courteous and said patients were treated with “compassion, dignity and respect”.
They also said Peartree was proactive in offering online services, provided a range of family planning resources and maintained a register for vulnerable patients to enable flexible care.
“The practice had good facilities and was well-equipped to treat patients and meet their needs,” the report said. “There was a clear leadership structure and staff felt supported by management.”
The practice GP said it “wholeheartedly” accepted the inspectors’ recommendations, and has since introduced a “robust” complaints procedure, completed all staff appraisals and addressed safety issues at regular meetings.
He added: “Peartree Group has a proud history of providing high-quality medical care to its patients and has trained hundreds of local GPs.
“Like many surgeries across the UK, Peartree Group has had difficulty recruiting GPs.
“There has also been a quick succession of long-standing GP retirements.
“Despite this, the GPs at Peartree have continued to provide good quality care.”
A previously retired doctor has since returned alongside a new consultant, while two new GPs will start in February.
The practice will be reassessed in six months.
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