Report into failings at Downham Market medical centre is discussed by Norfolk county councillors

An independent review of The Hollies health centre was discussed by county councillors at a meeting of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at County Hall yesterday.

An independent review of the medical centre was commissioned after four 'serious incidents' within a year, including the suspension of two GPs and the death of a vulnerable patient.

A report published in October revealed the health centre recruited locum GPs while the practice's two doctors were suspended, and also revealed how hundreds of unchecked pathology results were discovered at the practice, which serves 2,500 patients.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, and Paul Cracknell, interim chief executive of Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, faced a grilling from councillors about the report.

Mr Morgan assured councillors that lessons had been learned, saying: 'The people of Downham Market can be confident in their general practice. The review clearly concluded that front-line staff coped very well under very difficult circumstances. They have not been to blame for any of this. The medical staff there now are different to those that were there.'

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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 last year.

The Hollies was chosen as a new name by the centre's patient participation group (PPG) because it is beside the site of a preparatory school founded in the 1870s by the Misses Mumford, called The Hollies.

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Committee members were keen to emphasise the importance of the PPG in the medical centre continuing to rebuild its reputation with its patients.

Councillor for the Marshland North division, Tony Wright, said: 'The thing that worries me is that you are going down the same route that people always go; apologies, we've learned from this, it's not going to happen again.

'It's all well to say that action had been taken but did people actually lose their jobs? Did anyone get reprimanded?

'It worries me that in these cases a year later we hear the same story, so are you really sure lessons have been learned?'

Mr Morgan replied: 'Yes I can. We have always said we will look at the actions of individuals and take the appropriate action against individuals.

'We have looked at 30 staff and now we are looking at eight staff in particular and part of that will be to refer them to the appropriate governing body.

'Yes some people could be dismissed or could get warnings, and equally some could have done nothing wrong.'

- For the history of this story, see the links on the top-right of this page.

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