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CQC identifies improvements at Hertfordshire GP practice

11 August 2017
Dr Rajpreet Millan
  • Media,
  • GP and GP out-of-hours services

England’s Chief Inspector of General Practice has welcomed improvements in the quality of services provided by Whitwell Surgery in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

In September 2016, inspectors identified concerns with regard to the leadership and safety of the practice. As a result the practice was given an overall rating of Inadequate and placed into special measures.

The latest inspection which took place in June 2017 concluded the practice had addressed all areas of concern. It has now been awarded an overall rating of Good across all five areas for being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

A full report of the latest inspection has been published on our website.

Inspectors found that since the original inspection the practice had taken significant steps to improve leadership, with a focus on improving the quality and safety of its services to patients.

Examples of key findings and improvements, included:

  • There was an open and transparent approach to safety and a system in place for reporting and recording significant events. The practice carried out a thorough analysis of the significant events and completed an action log that was discussed at staff meetings.
  • The practice had clearly defined and embedded systems to minimise risks to patient safety.
  • Clinical audits demonstrated quality improvement. There had been three clinical audits undertaken since the previous inspection. All of these were completed audits where the improvements made were implemented and monitored.
  • Results from the national GP patient survey showed patients were treated with compassion, dignity and respect and were involved in their care and decisions about their treatment.
  • There was a clear leadership structure and staff felt supported by management. The principal GP in the practice demonstrated they had taken steps to develop the experience, capacity and capability to run the practice and ensure high quality care.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, said:

“It was disappointing that our inspection earlier this year highlighted concerns, particularly in relation to whether it was safe and well-led."

“I am very pleased to see that since then, the practice has made significant progress, which has led to a much better service for patients resulting in a new rating of Good across all areas and a removal from Special Measures."

“During the latest inspection we found the provider had significantly strengthened their leadership and management and had taken a proactive team approach towards making and sustaining improvements in quality."

“The practice has a clear vision and strategy to deliver high quality care and promote good outcomes for patients. Staff were clear about the vision and their responsibilities in relation to it and the principal GP encouraged a culture of openness and honesty."

“We received seven comment cards during the inspection which were all positive about the standard of care received. The service was described as very good or excellent and the staff as helpful, polite and efficient. Patients commented that they could get appointments when they wanted one."

“It is clear that the practice took our findings seriously, seeking external advice to help it improve and working hard to implement the necessary changes. All of the staff should be extremely proud of what they have achieved and I applaud the dedication and commitment they have shown to improving the care of their patients.”


For further information, please contact Regional Engagement Officer, Helen Gildersleeve, on 0191 233 3379.

Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here.

Please note: the press office is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
11 August 2017

Notes to editors

To get to the heart of people’s experiences of care, we always ask the following five questions of services.

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  • Are they well-led?

For every NHS GP practice and out-of-hours service, we will look at the quality of care for the following six population groups: Older people, People with long-term conditions, Families, children and young people, Working age people (including those recently retired and students),People whose circumstances may make them vulnerable, People experiencing poor mental health (including people with dementia). 

Providers are required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.