An unannounced inspection of a busy town centre GP surgery has uncovered a series of failings.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Albion Place Medical Practice in Maidstone and discovered around half of all telephone calls to the surgery were going unanswered and some vulnerable patients did not have a named GP to oversee their care.
They also found the practice - which has around 12,000 registered patients - had issues with processes to keep people safe, and complaints were not always managed in a timely manner.
Inspectors carried out their investigations in person on September 25, and then carried out monitoring remotely during the two weeks that followed.
The report outlining their findings states: “Staff told us that the practice did not operate a named GP system as insufficient GPs were employed in order to do so.
“This meant patients, including vulnerable patients, did not have a named GP to oversee their care and support them in whatever setting they lived, whether it was at home or in a care home or supported living scheme.”
It goes on to say: “Staff told us that there were currently insufficient staff employed to cover when employed staff were on annual leave or off sick.
“They said that because there were currently insufficient reception staff employed, the practice was missing approximately 50% of incoming telephone calls.”
The surgery, at the time of the inspection, employed two GPs.
Vacancies for another doctor and an advanced nurse practitioner were recently advertised, but no applications were received for either position by the closing date in October.
The report also concluded staff did not always have the information they needed to deliver safe care and treatment.
Inspectors looked at the records of six patients who were diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but could not find evidence care of any of these patients was based on best practice guidance.
"We are addressing all the findings..."
The practice must now provide the watchdog evidence of the steps it plans to take to address the issues raised.
A spokesman for surgery operator DMC Healthcare welcomed the inspection and said: “The work of the CQC is to ensure standards are met, and through inspection findings, to support continuous improvement.
“The inspection was limited in scope and was not designed to determine a CQC rating.
“We are addressing all the findings and look forward to the full inspection.”