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Two GP surgeries are closed by court order ‘with immediate effect’ for first time in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 07:54 15 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:38 16 October 2015

Oulton Medical Centre has closed. Picture: Nick Butcher

Oulton Medical Centre has closed. Picture: Nick Butcher

©Archant 2013

Thousands of patients could have to transfer to new GP surgeries after a court order closed a medical practice in Lowestoft “with immediate effect”.

What the CQC said...

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken urgent legal action in order to protect the safety and welfare of patients.

“We are working closely with partner agencies including NHS England and Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that patients continue to receive the service they are entitled to.

We are aware that arrangements are being organised by the local CCG to direct patients to an alternative practice to ensure the continuation of their care with minimal disruption.

Where providers are not meeting required standards, we have a range of enforcement powers we can use to protect the health, safety and welfare of people who use this service. When we propose to take enforcement action, our decision is open to challenge by the provider, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.

All CQC’s enforcement action is subject to appeal and the provider has a 28 day period to challenge the decision.”

Two doctors’ surgeries, with more than 5,000 registered patients in the Lowestoft area, have closed as urgent legal action was taken following “serious concerns about the service and the risks it presented to patients”.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has cancelled the registration of Oulton Medical Centre and its satellite branch of Marine Parade Surgery, currently based at Kirkley Mill, in what is the first “urgent cancellation of a GP’s registration” in Suffolk, Norfolk or Cambridgeshire.

At Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday the practices were closed under a Section 30 order of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

As a result, patients requiring urgent medical needs from Oulton were redirected after 8am yesterday to another practice in Bridge Road, Oulton Broad.

Meanwhile, the nearby Victoria Road practice provided a service for patients at Kirkley Mill.

Andy Evans, chief executive of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), assured patients that their care remains a priority.

“I know that some patients may be concerned and I want to reassure anyone affected by this decision that we are working with all the local GP practices, NHS England and all other interested parties to make sure that every patient receives the care they need,” Mr Evans said.

The urgent enforcement process that the CQC has taken is not a new power and has happened at care homes and other GP practices over the years. However, it is the most severe level of enforcement which is implemented to ensure patients’ safety and welfare is protected.

An unannounced inspection was carried out at Oulton Medical Centre in March 2015. On that occasion services were rated inadequate and it was placed into special measures.

A further visit took place in October and a spokesman for the CQC said: “Further concerns were identified in relation to a lack of clinical leadership and a failure to learn from errors, meaning patient wellbeing was placed at risk.”

Terry Rymer, co-ordinator of the Patient Participation Group (PPG) at Oulton Medical Centre, described how he was “shocked” by the decision.

“The closure will come as a surprise and a shock to the patients as well.

“We now need to see what the next step will be and we will need to meet urgently to discuss what needs to be done,” said Mr Rymer.

Patients from the practices with urgent medical concerns should ring 111 and any general concerns should ring the PALS team on 01502 719567.

•Has the closure affected you? Email joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk.

•What do you make of the closure? You can leave your comments below.

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