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GP practice in special measures.

A North Yorkshire GP practice has been placed in special measures after health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated it ‘inadequate'.

Unity Health, which runs Kimberlow Hill surgery in Heslington and Wenlock Terrace off Fulford Road, both in York, was judged to have poor standards in arrangements for monitoring and reviewing prescribing, and weaknesses in the management of potential risks to patient safety, complaints handling and systems to monitor staff competency.

The CQC report rated Unity Health ‘inadequate’ in response to four questions: are services safe, effective, responsive and well-led? The reported added that it required improvement in response to the question, are services caring?

The report said the practice "did not have a good track record on safety", and systems for managing and storing medicines did not always minimise risks.

It said patient feedback was ‘very poor’ over access to appointments, with patients unable to get through due to telephone issues. There were also clinical and reception staff shortages, and not all staff had the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out their roles, for example during triaging by nurses.

The practice has said it had already put a number of key improvements in place. These included changing its telephone system, recruiting new call handling staff, suspending its online triage service until further notice, pausing the registration of new patients, overhauling the complaints system to ensure all concerns are responded to in a timely manner, and bringing in support from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Unity health initially compounded its difficulties by emailing patients with the CQC inspection findings that it failed to meet national standards in several areas by accidentally giving each patient the email addresses of 1,200 others, breaching data protection regulations.

Unity Health said: “Naturally, this news comes as a huge disappointment to all of the staff working at Unity Health. We also appreciate that it has the potential to cause you to be concerned and we apologise most sincerely for that.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you, and let you know, that we are doing everything in our power to put things right quickly and to get a speedy re-inspection that will take us out of special measures.”

Unity Health partner, Dr Richard Wilcox, told local newspaper, the York Press: “The priority now is to roll up our sleeves, continue making the improvements that have been identified and focus on getting things right for our patients going forward.” He added that good progress had already been made.

The practice also apologised over breaching data protection regulations. GP partner, Dr Mark Astill, told patients the practice was ‘very sorry’ a mistake had been made when sending the message, and said that it took "any breaches of data protection with the utmost seriousness.”

He said steps had already been taken, with the Information Commissioner’s Office informed and the incident reported to the NHS through the ‘NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit.’

He added: “We will also be taking internal steps to discover why this error occurred, to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Please accept our sincere apology.”

Surgery managing partner, Louise Johnston, stressed that no medically confidential information had been passed on.