New twist in Norfolk health centre saga

Eight people will be further investigated over the running of a health centre in Downham Market, Health Minister Simon Burns revealed today.

A report published in October revealed receptionists at the health centre, now called The Hollies, recruited locum GPs while the practice's two doctors were suspended.

The independent review, which was commissioned after four 'serious incidents' within a year, also revealed how hundreds of unchecked pathology results were discovered at the practice which serves 2,500 patients.

In a meeting at the Department of Health today with South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and Ruth May, chief nurse of NHS East of England, the minister said 30 members of staff had been investigated by a joint panel between NHS Norfolk and Waveney and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust.

As a result of the investigation, the minister said the work of eight people warrants further investigation, including three 'very senior managers' at the time in question.

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After the meeting, Ms Truss said: 'Although it has been a long wait for relatives and patients, I am satisfied that individuals are being held to account for their actions in failing to act on the problems at the former Downham Market Health Centre. '

Dr Ruth May, who commissioned the report, added: 'The current review is being conducted thoroughly and fairly and will be concluded as soon as possible. I will meet Elizabeth Truss in the New Year to update her.'

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The review was undertaken by the Collingham Healthcare Education Centre and covered the period between March 2010 and March 2011 - before Vida Healthcare took over the service in April this year.

Dan O'Connor, spokesman for the health centre, said: 'Patients will, I'm sure, feel it is right that individuals are being held to account, not just for the serious risks to patient safety that were allowed to develop there by the senior management of both the Norfolk Primary Care Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care, but also for the huge sums of public money that had to be spent on relief staff as a result of both organisations' failure to provide effective oversight and governance.'

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