Published: 09:56, 24 December 2019
| Updated: 10:31, 24 December 2019
Four GP surgeries were shut without warning because "the risk to patients was too great", the health watchdog has explained.
It followed an unannounced inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after concerns about safety were raised by patients.
The CQC report rated the surgeries as "inadequate" in four of five categories assessed, and "requires improvement" for providing caring services.
It found the practice "did not always have clear systems, practices and processes to keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse".
Inspectors discovered people were not able to book and access appointments in a timely manner.
National GP survey results were also well below Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) national averages.
CQC head of inspection for the South East, Janet Ortega, said she was "deeply concerned" to find so many areas needing significant improvement.
"I am aware there were staff trying their best, but both surgeries were failing the patients and team," she said.
"It is extremely concerning the provider failed to notify the CQC about the backlog of correspondence and other significant issues.
The chief inspector added "in normal circumstances" it would have been possible for the practices to continue in special measures but here "the risk to patients was too great".
Previous premises manager, Dr Bhaskar Bora, 44, apologised to patients following the closures and has since tendered his resignation.
The former chairman of the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG explained he had been off work following a period of serious ill-health.
"With my current health status and whatever, my time in Kent seems to be up," he said.
The doctor explained he had been trying to acquire new premises but these attempts had proved unsuccessful.
The 2,791 patients from Joydens Wood will now be seen at Summerhouse Surgery in Bexley, just one mile away from the practice.
Clinical services for the 8,990 people registered at Elmdene, Bennett Way and Bean Surgeries are currently being provided by other local clinicians.
Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG chief nurse, Paula Wilkins, said: “We have been working very hard to minimise the disruption to patient care while we find a sustainable solution.
“We put extra capacity into the Improved Access hubs and NHS 111, brought in a clinical advisor to review patient records to identify high risk patients, as well as deploying CCG staff to help with administrative tasks.
"Summerhouse Surgery is a much more suitable premises to provide clinical services from and is on a better bus route, enabling many patients to reach it more easily."
More by this authorSean Delaney