Out-of-hours GP firm bosses grilled over failings

Practice Plus Group (PPG) was told earlier this year that they must make sure enough GPs and other staff are on duty to cover 637,000 patients during evenings and weekends.

The CQC said there were too many unfilled shifts on the rota and found that, during one week, 73 patients classed as urgent over the weekend were still waiting to speak to a clinician on the following Monday.

The firm was told it has to ensure there are enough “suitable qualified, competent, skilled and experienced” staff on the rota to meet its legal obligations.

It is one of four compulsory improvements required by the inspectors who deemed the service requires improvement.

The health and care watchdog found the service was caring and compassionate and had improved since the last inspection but still needed to make four more improvements.

As a result of the latest inspection, Gloucestershire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee invited representatives of PPG to their meeting on March 14.

They asked health chiefs about what was being done to improve the situation as the service has required improvement for several years.

Sue Brooks, PPG’s integrated urgent care regional director, said: “When we’ve had a CQC inspection, we always create an action plan post that inspection.

“It adds to any service development improvement planning we might already have in place for ourselves. Then we work through those actions.”

But chairman Andrew Gravells (C, Abbey) questioned the effectiveness of the action plans given that the service has required improvement for several years.

He asked why other parts of the company were doing much better than the branch in Gloucestershire. He said: “Obviously the action plans aren’t effective, are they?

“Because otherwise we wouldn’t be here with another CQC report which says it requires improvement.

“What’s interesting is that when you look at the CQC website, other branches of your company don’t end up with these disappointing results. They seem to be doing better.”

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