An SSP Health GP practice which last year was in danger of closure due to its doctor retiring has been given an Outstanding rating by healthcare inspectors.
Beefold Medical Centre, in Atherton, Wigan was given the top accreditation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a comprehensive inspection.
The CQC rated three out of five areas of service to patients as Outstanding – care, responsiveness and leadership – with the other two classed as Good, with an overall rating of Outstanding.
Inspectors praised a number of aspects at the surgery – which became part of GP federation SSP Health in April, 2018 – including that since the takeover, medication review rates had improved from being “significantly low at 35% for all patients” to 100% after SSP Health “allocated additional GP and pharmacist resources”.
Inspectors also highlighted that the practice was breast-feeding, veteran and LGBT friendly, and praised the practice’s Cancer Champion, who contacts all newly diagnosed patients and ensures all processes and support are in place for follow-up treatment and medication.
The inspectors’ report also highlights the practice’s ‘Good Wish Tree’ which contains quotes and messages to improve patients’ mood and to boost their self-esteem and make them smile.
It adds: “The practice encouraged staff and patients to support this by taking one of these positive quotes and messages from the ‘Good Wish Tree’ to improve their own and someone else’s day. Staff we spoke with informed us that several patients had commented on how they felt this had a positive impact on their well-being.”
Beefold is a small practice with only one GP and a single practice nurse and was under the threat of closure before SSP Health took it over.
Inspectors state: “The practice management team were motivating, forward thinking, organised and innovative with a sensible approach and clear goals. Staff told us they received excellent support and encouragement from the SSP leadership team to do this.”
The number of smaller practices has halved in recent years, with only 10% of surgeries having fewer than 3,000 patients in 2017 compared with 20% ten years before (https://www.gponline.com/small-gp-practices-pushe…/…/1489958) as funding and GP recruitment pressures increasingly leading them to merge or close. In 2018, 138 practices closed across the UK, with 86% being smaller local surgeries (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/2018-saw-highest-ever-number…/).
Beefold Medical Centre has around 2,000 patients on its books, but this has increased by 10% since SSP Health took over. It is now a training practice, giving instruction to trainee doctors.
SSP Health Director and GP, Dr Shikha Pitalia, said: “We are incredibly proud of the hard work of all our staff at Beefold Medical Practice – and their colleagues across SSP Health who support them – in achieving this tremendous result. We’d also like to thank the surgery’s Patient Participation Group, which we have worked closely with to improve services for patients.
“Being a single-handed GP practice, Beefold could easily have closed before we took it over last year. It is incredibly hard for smaller practices to remain open, especially in urban areas, but we knew we had to give this surgery a chance to survive after its GP retired and we have been proven right with the services now being judged as Outstanding.
“The federated model of GP practices, which SSP Health pioneered in 2002, is increasingly seen as the way forward for general practice and it has certainly worked for Beefold and its patients who can continue to visit their local surgery.”
Inspectors referred to this in their report, stating: “The practice had benefited from being part of the wider federated organisation, SSP Health.
“They had been able to call upon the wide-ranging support available when required to ensure continuity of care. This included both clinical and administrative support and offered access to shared learning, training, mentoring and personal development.
“We saw examples of how this federated model had reduced isolation for the practice by sharing good practice.”
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Below is the team with their rating poster: