Walthamstow surgery placed into special measures

A Walthamstow GP with more than 7,800 patients is in special measures after an inspector found it “had not acted” on safety concerns.

The Firs Medical Centre on Stephenson Road now has six months to improve before the Care Quality Commission takes action, which could mean shutting it down. 

Chief inspector Dr Rosie Benneyworth visited the practice in May and found some staff were missing vital training and that fire safety risks in the building had not been addressed.

She wrote that the surgery’s failure to act on issues raised at its last inspection in October 2019 meant leaders “could not demonstrate that they had the capacity and skills to deliver high quality sustainable care”.

Dr Benneyworth wrote: “I am placing this service in special measures. The service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.

“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.

“Special measures will give people who use the service the reassurance that the care they get should improve.”

During the inspection last month, Dr Bennyworth found some staff had not completed fire safety training and that the practice’s fire wardens had not completed it since 2019.

In March, an external fire safety company had deemed there was a “moderate” risk to life from fire due to issues in the building.

However, while some problems had been fixed, others had not been raised with the landlord, and an oxygen cylinder was still being stored near the lift’s motor, despite the fire risk.

Some staff were also missing basic life support training, infection control training and safeguarding training.

When Dr Bennyworth asked to see the practice’s risk assessment, she was presented with what “appeared to be a risk register” and then told staff had “misunderstood what a health and safety risk assessment was”.

She was also told the practice had “been experiencing some issues with their telephone provider” for a few months, meaning patients were sometimes unable to call them.

It was in the process of changing providers at the time of the inspection, which it expected to take about four months, and hoped this “would be an improvement for patients and staff”.

A senior partner at The Firs said they had received the reports and were “considering the comments and recommendations made”.

They said: “We will be looking at how we can address the points raised by the inspectors. We are fully committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter