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Patients let down as Soho Square General Practice rated ‘inadequate’

5,000 patients at NHS surgery run by Living Care Medical Services Limited

21 September, 2018 — By Tom Foot

A previous public meeting about changes at the surgery

A GP surgery in the heart of Soho has been placed in special measures by inspectors. Soho Square General Practice in Frith Street is “inadequate”, according to the Care Quality Commission that has published one of its most scathing reports ever.

Its management by Leeds-based private firm Living Care Medical Services Limited was singled out as particularly flawed in a report following an inspection in May 2018.

Last year the company said the surgery, which has 5,000 patients on its books was no longer financially viable.

Professor Ursula Gallagher, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of GP practices, said: “I am disappointed that Soho Square General Practice is now rated inadequate overall and we are putting it in special measures.

“We will continue to monitor the practice and will inspect again within six months. If insufficient improvements have been made we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service.

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

The CQC said its inspectors had found “there was no clinical oversight of the largely locum clinical staff”. Staff “could not demonstrate effective cleaning” of some clinical equipment.

Patients had said the practice did not listen to patients’ views and continuity of care was poor owing to the high use of locums.

The practice was saved from closure in 2014 when a host of residents’ groups in the West End – including the Soho Society, Covent Garden Community Association, Westminster LGBT Forum and the Chinese Community Centre – campaigned to save it. It was at that time operated by the Central London Community Healthcare Trust.

But last year Living Care Medical Services, which took over in August 2016, told patients it was no longer financially viable.

The CQC said the provider had breached regulations about governance, care and treatment and “leadership capacity and clinical oversight in the practice”.

Inspectors said staff had treated patients “with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect” and the appointment system was easy to use.

This week West End Labour councillor Pancho Lewis said the report had made “alarming find- ings”, he added: “Patients have long expressed concerns about Living Care, the provider that deliver services at Soho Square General Practice.

“While Living Care must assume responsibility for what is happening, it needs to be stressed that there is a broader context of mismanagement of the NHS that the government is responsible for.”

Living Care specialises in providing private medical care services to patients in the north.

Last year the company said: “Living Care looks forward to a positive and supportive relationship with the Patient Participation Group to grow the practice and create the conditions to make it stable and assure its longevity.”

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