CQC changes rating of practice group with GP surgeries in Morpeth, Cramlington, Ashington, and more

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Valens Medical Partnership has been rated ‘good’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The regulator’s inspectors visited the practice group’s surgeries in Morpeth and Cramlington, as well as interviewing staff over video call and reviewing practice records during the summer.

The resulting report praised the partnership and found no breaches of regulations, but did replace its rating of ‘outstanding’, awarded in 2016, with one of ‘good’.

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Inspectors found effective systems were in place to support frail older patients and provide annual health checks for people with a learning difficulty.

Wellway Surgery in Morpeth is one of eight Northumberland surgeries run by Valens Medical Partnership. (Photo by Google)Wellway Surgery in Morpeth is one of eight Northumberland surgeries run by Valens Medical Partnership. (Photo by Google)
Wellway Surgery in Morpeth is one of eight Northumberland surgeries run by Valens Medical Partnership. (Photo by Google)

The practice was referring people with mental health problems, including dementia, to the relevant services and was effective at continuing to monitor their physical health.

There are also annual reviews and effective support for people with long term health conditions registered at the practice, and a number of other proactive systems in place, such as one to inform patients when they should receive a meningitis vaccine.

The CQC report found the percentage of people screened for cervical cancer at the appropriate time was below the national 80% target, but said: “The practice had created an overdue cervical screening list to help ensure people were contacted and offered appointments.”

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Inspectors also found some asthma patients were overdue for appropriate monitoring or had not been prescribed the right medication, but that this issue was rectified immediately by the practice. Otherwise, no faults were found with the practice’s medicines management.

The report noted leadership was implementing a new communication and wellbeing strategy for staff but found leaders could be more visible and approachable, and the practice values and vision were good, but could be communicated better to staff.

The report also noted recent complaints regarding access to appointments at the practice. It said: “The practice was aware of the results from the GP Patient Survey in relation to telephone access and had taken action to make improvements to this.

“They introduced a centralised call centre to triage appointments.”

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In the last year face to face appointments and use of the online e-consult system have increased, according to inspectors, and there are plans to move the call centre into a new, better facilitated building to help improve responses to patients.

Inspectors also noted and supported an Increase from 1,900 social prescription appointments to 15,000 in the last year.

However, the report said: “Staff told us they felt nursing supervision could be improved. The practice acknowledged that lead roles within the nursing team were being reinstated following the Covid-19 pandemic and they would discuss with the teams what improvements could be made.”

Inspectors praised the practice’s analysis of data on the needs of their patients and health inequalities in the areas they serve, and the changes to how resources were allocated that this analysis informed.

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They also praised the responsiveness to patient needs, such as by issuing death certificates out of hours if required for cultural reasons, ensuring appointments were available for children at times that would avoid taking them out of school, and helping vulnerable people including the homeless to register.