Littlehampton GP surgeries threatened with closure are rated 'inadequate' again

Yvonne Smart, GP for Fitzalan Medical Group
Yvonne Smart, GP for Fitzalan Medical Group

Two Littlehampton GP surgeries that were told they would be shut down if they did not improve have been rated as 'inadequate' again by Government inspectors.

In a report published in October, Fitzalan Medical Group was rated as 'inadequate' and warned by the Care Quality Commission that if it did not raise its standards in six months its registration could be cancelled. This was based on an inspection in August.

After being inspected again in November, the healthcare provider remained 'inadequate', a report published on Thursday last week said - but it said 'the practice had made significant improvements and was compliant with the warning notices'.

The group looks after 16,500 patients at surgeries in Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, and Clun Road, Wick.

In the most recent report, Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, said: "At this inspection we followed up on breaches of regulations identified at our previous inspection in August 2018.

"The ratings remain unchanged from the August 2018 inspection as the purpose of this inspection was to review compliance against the warning notices issued."

A spokesman for the CQC was asked if this latest inspection meant the surgery would be closing.

In response, they said: “The CQC conducted several inspections of Fitzalan Medical Group throughout 2018. Serious concerns with the service provision were repeatedly identified and the service remained rated Inadequate throughout and in special measures.

“Following the inspection in August 2018, CQC inspectors took enforcement action to protect patients by stopping new patients registering with the practice. Inspectors continue to work very closely with NHS England and the Clinical Commissioning Group to monitor the practice’s progress in addressing the issues and delivering improvements.

"Fitzalan Medical Group remains in special measures and a further inspection of the practice will be completed in due course.”

Following the August inspection, the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - an NHS body which oversees the funding of healthcare locally - stepped in to put more resources into the surgeries.

Sarah Henley, Associate Director for Primary and Community Care Integration at the CCG, said: "It is really encouraging to see the progress Fitzalan Medical Group has made, both for the practice and for all of its patients.

“The practice is working extremely hard to improve the way they work and this has been seen by all of the warning notices being lifted and the CQC’s satisfaction that significant improvements have been made to date.

“This does not mean the work stops and the team are committed to ensuring the next inspection in April sees sustained improvement, and an improvement overall in their rating.

“We will continue to work closely with the practice, and the wider locality, to support all of the progress they are making.”