Published: 10:00, 03 January 2020
| Updated: 10:42, 03 January 2020
A doctors' surgery which was rated as "requiring improvement" by health watchdog regulators has now been branded "inadequate" and placed under special measures.
Inspectors have warned that if St Werburgh Medical Practice in Hoo does not make significant changes within the next six months, they may be forced to shut it down.
A damning report from the Care Quality Commission lists numerous shortfalls including safety of patients, deteriorating services, lack of suitably qualified staff and medicines not being stored properly.
The practice in Bells Lane is run by Dulwich Medical Centre (DMC) and has 11,300 patients from the village and surrounding area on its register.
CQC chief inspector Dr Rosie Benneyworth said in her report that the watchdog "will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service. This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration within six months if they do not improve.
"The service will be kept under review and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.
"Special measures will give people who use the service reassurance that the care they get should improve."
The surgery was rated "inadequate" in four out of five categories. It was given a "requires improvement" rating for providing a caring service, noting that "staff involved and treated patients with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect".
But it was also noted that since a previous visit in November 2018, a patient survey showed it was difficult to get an appointment that suited their needs over the phone.
Areas that must be addressed include: ensuring care and treatment is provided in a safe way; establishing effective systems and processes to ensure good governance in accordance with the fundamental standards of care; ensuring sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons are deployed to meet the fundamental standards of care and treatment.
Stuart Jeffery is deputy managing director at Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), a group of 55 GP practices from across the Medway Towns responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, and serving a patient population of 295,223.
He said:“An inspection by the Care Quality Commission at St Werburgh Medical Practice has resulted in the issuing of warning notices for items that need to be addressed.
“Medway CCG is working with DMC Healthcare, which has managed the practice since September 1, 2018, to support them in carrying out these works to ensure there is minimal disruption to patient care.”
Pensioner Noreen Chambers said the closure of the surgery where she has been a patient for 30 years would be "disastrous".
Mrs Chambers, a Hoo parish councillor, said: "There are a lot of older people here in the village. What are they going to do?
"They can't be expected to get on a bus and go elsewhere, especially if they have got arthritis or something."
Her friend Pat Lynch, who is in her 70s, said: "It would be devastating, especially for people like me who don't drive.
"But I'm not surprised. You can't get an appointment there. Even if you get up at 6.30am and queue outside, you are not guaranteed.
"They can't let this happen. It's such a shame because the staff are lovely."
You can read the report by clicking here.
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More by this authorNicola Jordan