Failings of doomed Storrington surgery exposed

JPCT 030514 S14190924x Storrington. Mill Stream Medical Centre. Dr Joanna Bailey -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140605-151643001
JPCT 030514 S14190924x Storrington. Mill Stream Medical Centre. Dr Joanna Bailey -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140605-151643001

The NHS local team has revealed that Storrington’s doomed Mill Stream Medical Centre failed to replace ‘vital broken equipment’ and samples from patients were ‘not appropriately stored’.

The team provided the information in response to a series of questions posed by South Downs MP Nick Herbert on behalf of patients of the surgery, which will close on May 31.

n Why is the Mill Stream Medical Centre closing?

Dr Bailey last practised as a GP in June 2012 and is currently suspended by the GMC meaning that she is not legally allowed to treat patients. NHS England has provided extensive support to Dr Bailey over this time to support her in keeping her practice open.

For the last 17 months the care in Mill Stream Medical Centre has been provided by a number of temporary or locum doctors on short contracts.

While these fully qualified GPs will of course have given the best possible treatment to patients they have not been able to manage the clinical governance of the practice and take the overarching actions needed to ensure patient safety.

There are examples from recent months of vital broken equipment not being replaced and of samples from patients not being appropriately stored and sent for testing.

NHS England has a duty of care to the patients of Mill Stream Medical Centre. Having reviewed all the circumstances we now have to close this practice to ensure patient safety.

n Is this about saving money?

No. The money to provide GP services will move with the patients to their new practices. This is about patient care.

n Has my care at Mill Stream been unsafe? Should I be worried?

The Sussex Primary Care Trust suspended Dr Bailey in July 2012 because of concerns about her clinical practice.

During 2012 most identified failings in clinical care were corrected by the practice.

The General Medical Council imposed conditions and then suspended Dr Bailey, preventing her from treating patients.

As the sole contract holder following the departure of her GP partner in February 2013, she is still responsible for the running of the practice and ensuring that the patients registered at Mill Stream receive primary care services. This includes providing adequate safeguards in the practice to reduce to a minimum the potential for harm to patients.

Since March 2013 Mill Stream has been staffed by fully qualified GPs who will have given you the best possible care.

However, they are temporary or locum doctors and are unable to offer continuity of care which can be important for some patients, particularly those that need detailed follow up and review, those with mental health problems and other long term conditions such as diabetes.

Dr Bailey was unable to assure NHS England that she had sufficient plans in place to maintain the clinical quality of the care at Mill Stream and ensure patients remain safe.

We believe that where there has been concerns about the treatment that patients have received, most have been contacted and their treatment has been reviewed and changed.

n Have all the patients been told of the closure?

Yes. We have written to all affected patients with details of how to register with one of the alternative local GP practices nearby.

n Which local GP practices can I register with?

There are four local GP practices within the immediate local area who are ready and able to welcome new patients; these are the Glebe Surgery in Storrington, Pulborough Medical Group, Steyning Health Centre and Billingshurst Surgery. You can register with any of the above if resident within their practice boundary.

n Do they have room for all these additional patients?

Yes. These practices will take on more doctors and other staff if needed, and they have the physical space.

The Glebe Surgery will also put a temporary building on their current site to provide additional accommodation and space for services.

This is an interim solution while the Surrey and Sussex Area Team works with both the local Council and the practice to seek a longer term solution.

n Why not use the Mill Stream building?

The building that Mill Stream Medical Centre currently occupies is not an NHS owned building and therefore we have no rights to use this after the 31st May 2014.

n Where can I get more information?

Patients can also find details of other practices close to where they live on the NHS Choices website at Alternatively they can contact the Primary Care Support Service (PCSS) on 01903 756800.

n How many patients did Millstream Practice have on its list?

4376. It is important to note that as of 18.05.2014 1,555 patients had registered with a new practice. This is approximately 35 per cent.

NHS England (Surrey and Sussex Area Team) are confident that the majority of patients will have registered with a new practice by May 31 and will be actively following up any patient that hasn’t to facilitate this process.