A Stamford medical practice placed into special measures after the Care Quality Commission rated it “inadequate” has been given the all clear by councillors.
Lakeside Healthcare was placed into special measures in August 2021, and CQC inspectors revisited in March this year where they found the practice to be “Inadequate” for safety but “Requires Improvement” for the rest of the key questions of ‘Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led’.
A meeting of Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday was told that health chiefs were now “reassured” good progress had been made with a further CQC exam set to take place this month.
Nick Blake, Lincolnshire NHS Integrated Care Board’s Acting Programme Director told councillors the ICB had been going in fortnightly.
“The team are reassured that good progress is being made by the practice in terms of addressing some of the issues highlighted through the CQC reports.
“We’ve also had clinical pharmacists from the ICB go in and look at the dispensary and I’m pleased to say they have have reported again the those issues have been addressed and he was reassured by the management of the dispensary and the process is being followed.”
He said the ICB planned to keep a close eye on the practice and carry out further quality reviews.
Councillors praised the progress and improvements made and voted not to seek a further report on the practice as long as it did not get rated inadequate.
However, some continued to have concerns over the practice’s relationship with its community.
Bosses at the practice angered local residents in September 2020 after it announced its intention to close St Mary’s Medical Centre in Wharf Road.
However it has since reopened post-pandemic and is still in use for NHS primary care services under Lakeside’s management.
Many consider the owners to have a “monopoly” on GP services in the area and fear that they wield too much power over healthcare provision.
Councillor Marianne Overton, who also spoke on behalf of Stamford Councillor Richard Cleaver who could not attend due to illness, said the closure of the practice during COVID “seems to have alienated a number of residents who feel disenfranchised”.
Dean Odell, from Healthwatch Lincolnshire, said the practice was the one “we hear the most feedback about”.
“It’s mostly negative feedback around the trying to get an appointment through the telephone – not to say that I think it’s a practice that’s any worse than anywhere else.
“But… I think that’s one of the things that that does seem to be a bit of a disconnect between the patients and the practice.”
Bosses said their teams were focused on addressing the issues highlighted and rebuilding the relationship “based on service delivery with registered patients.”
They added that they were working with a new chief executive to build “greater confidence” in the management and that “significant improvements” had been made to phone response times.
There is currently only one other GP practice rated as inadequate in the county – Hawthorne in Skegness.