'Unsafe' Burnley GP placed into special measures

Daneshouse Medical Centre.
Daneshouse Medical Centre.

A Burnley GP centre has been placed into special measures after the Care Quality Commission rated it as ‘Inadequate’ following inspection earlier this year.

Inspectors from the CQC, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, deemed Daneshouse Medical Centre on Old Hall Street on April 5th to be ‘Inadequate’ in four of the five key areas of practice and ‘Requiring Improvement’ in the other.

The report highlighted patients being “at risk of harm” due to poor system implementation and, having been placed into special measures, will be inspected again in six months.

Alison Holbourn, the CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice, said: “This is unacceptable. People are entitled to effective care [but] comprehensive processes were not in place to keep patients safe.

“People registered with Daneshouse Medical Centre are not getting the high quality care which everyone should expect to receive from their GP,” she added, with the clinic under threat of having its registration cancelled should new and improved proposals not be adopted.

In response to the report, one of the practice’s GPs, Dr Kazam Khan, said: “Problems stemmed from recruitment issues since my senior partner retired in 2013. We’re not able to recruit, this is the most deprived practice in the whole of the UK, with significant levels of deprivation and illnesses.

“It’s hard to find people to work in this area,” Dr Khan added, with Burnley councillor Gordon Birtwhistle and MP Julie Cooper both having expressed sympathy with the practice’s plight in the past. “Existing doctors and nurses get burned out and leave; I’m hanging on as much as I can.”

Other concerning aspects mentioned in the report included the “the gas safety check for the premises [being] six months overdue,” and the clinic’s haphazard approach towards “logging and auditing the location of blank hand written prescription pads.”

The report also revealed that a meagre 54% of patients described the overall experience of the GP as ‘Good’ compared with the national average of 85%, while staff were said to be “not always fully aware of their roles and responsibilities.”

Daneshouse have been issued with a list of areas to address, including establishing a system for patients and carers to make complaints, analysing the patients’ complaints to identify themes and take action, monitoring and reviewing the use of prescription pads, and mitigating any risks to patients.

“It was worrying that positive outcomes for patients were lower than both the local and national averages,” Alison continued. “We saw little evidence that the practice was doing anything to improve them.

“We have told the practice where they must improve and we are placing them into special measures to ensure that action will be taken.”

Looking forward, Dr Khan said: “No one wants to work in difficult areas, so it’s becoming difficult in such a high-demand area. The NHS have supported us recently, but it’s been an issue for quite a while.

“We just have to work towards becoming CQC-compliant,” he continued. “It’s achievable with NHS England’s help and we’re trying to meet targets.”