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GP surgery faces closure threat after being rated ‘inadequate’

Veteran doctor hits back at inspector’s ‘rather harsh’ findings, less than eight months after centre faced criticism in an earlier report

10 August, 2018 — By Emily Finch

The Bingfield Primary Care Centre, off Caledonian Road

A GP surgery could be forced to close after it was given the worst possible rating by a health inspector, less than eight months after the release of a highly critical report.

Dr Tahir Haffiz’s surgery, based at Bingfield Primary Care Centre, off Caledonian Road, was rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in their latest report, released on Monday following an inspection in May. The overall rating has not changed since the previous report in December last year.

But Dr Haffiz, the sole practitioner, has hit back at the report and says he felt it was “rather harsh”.

He told the Tribune: “We made a number of challenges to the CQC [about the report]. It is not considered from our point of view. We made representations that we don’t agree with what they are describing and it underplays the quite considerable improvements we made since the last inspection.”

The veteran GP, who has run his surgery for 20 years, added: “I don’t want readers to have the impression we will close. We will be fighting to keep open and show we should have a better ­rating.

“I have faced many challenges in 20 years – we have always got through. I have a loyalty to my patients and I want them to continue to benefit. It’s important that small practices are recognised. We are deeply embedded in the community.”

Dr Haffiz said he would be hiring a new manager for the practice. The surgery has one male principal GP alongside a locum doctor and a nurse for the 3,060 registered patients. It faced an influx of 600 new patients following the closure of a nearby surgery about three years ago.

The surgery will be kept under review and the CQC may undertake an “urgent enforcement action” if not enough improvements are made.

Professor Steve Field, general practice for the CQC, said in the report: “Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within a further six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.”

The latest report found that the processes to keep patients safe and safeguarded from abuse “were not effective”.

Professor Field said: “The practice did not have appropriate systems to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from abuse. All staff permanently employed by the practice received up-to-date safeguarding training appropriate to their role, but the practice did not receive evidence that locum staff members had completed any safeguarding training.”

The previous report in December also highlighted how the uptake of cervical screening tests for patients at the surgery was just 44 per cent – far below the local average of 77 per cent. The latest report said the uptake of the tests which can detect cervical cancer was still below the average at only 51 per cent.

Dr Haffiz said the percentage increase is “amazing”. He said: “In our area there are lots of cultures with lots of superstitions [about cervical smear tests]. It’s a large improvement in a short space off time.”

The report praised the practice for being caring to patients and highlighted how staff “recognised the importance of people’s dignity and respect”.

Cllr Paul Convery, who represents Caledonian Road for the Labour Party, said: “I don’t think Dr Haffiz is facing the scale of the challenge. I am sympathetic to the pressure he faces, I think he needs to be more honest in recognising it’s going to take a superhuman effort to see quality standards.

“If he cannot achieve a step-change improvement in the next six months he should carefully consider his future. His patients are overwhelmingly drawn from the most deprived part of the Cally and they deserve a much better NHS service.”

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