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CQC rates Merseyside GP practice as Inadequate

23 April 2015
Hightown Surgery
  • Media

England’s Chief Inspector of General Practice has rated a Merseyside GP practice as Inadequate following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

A specialist team of inspectors rated the service provided by Hightown Surgery in Hightown, Merseyside as Inadequate for being safe, and well-led, and Requires Improvement for being caring, effective and responsive. The practice has been given an overall rating of Inadequate.

Under CQC’s new programme of inspections led by Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, all of England’s GP practices are being inspected and given a rating. U

Hightown Surgery was inspected in November 2014 by an inspection team which included a GP advisor, and a practice manager. A full report of this inspection has been published on the CQC website today.

Inspectors received mixed feedback from patients they spoke to during the inspection. Patients said they were able to get an appointment reasonably quickly and some spoke positively about the care and treatment they had received, however others raised concerns about the lack of continuity of care due to the high number of locum GPs delivering services.

Inspectors found that arrangements were not in place to ensure that there were suffient GPs available at all times and they raised concerns about the lack of clinical leadership at the practice. Locum GPs were not fully supported by the provider, and worked largely in isolation.

The practice was not responsive to patient concerns and did not involve patients in the planning of how services were delivered. The needs of some patient groups were not being met and at times, measures to reduce risk were not being followed by staff.

he Care Quality Commission has identified a number of areas for improvement, including:

  • The practice must have regard to the complaints and comments made and views expressed by patients and those acting on their behalf.
  • The practice must communicate with and involve patients in a transparent way, particularly around continuity of GP care, and especially those patients with a mental health condition such as dementia.
  • The practice must take steps to ensure there are sufficient GPs available at all times to deliver services.
  • The practice must improve leadership and support for GPs who work as locums, offering peer review of their work and support in the making of clinical decisions which may require discussion with other specialists.

CQC has been working closely with South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England to support the practice while it addresses the issues identified by the inspection.

Sue McMillan, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice said:

“It is important that the people who are registered with Hightown Surgery can rely on getting the high quality care which everyone is entitled to receive from their GP.

“While some patients were happy with their care and treatment, others were not, and we found some significant areas of concern. I do not believe that the practice is likely to resolve its challenges without external support. This is why we are placing the practice into special measures. 

“With the right support, I expect this practice to be transformed. After a period of six months we will inspect again to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. If we find that the service provided by this practice remains inadequate, we will consider taking steps to cancel its registration with CQC.”

Patients registered with practices being placed into special measures should be aware that the package of support being offered by NHS England and the Royal College of GPs will ensure that there are no immediate risks to patient safety at these GP practices whilst improvements are being made. These practices will not close.


For further information please contact CQC Regional Engagement Manager Kirstin Hannaford on 0191 233 3629.

For media enquiries about the Care Quality Commission, please call the press office on 020 7448 9401 during office hours. Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here (please note: the duty press officer 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:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

CQC has published a full report on Hightown Surgery.

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 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)

Since 1 April, providers have been required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. Further information on the display of CQC ratings.

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.