Sutton GP surgeries set to merge

The Pantiles Medical Centre, Sutton-in-Ashfield
The Pantiles Medical Centre, Sutton-in-Ashfield

A troubled Sutton GP surgery is to merge with a neighbouring practice next week - after more problems with the way it was run were identified during the latest inspection by health watchdogs.

The Pantiles Medical Centre, on Church Street, is merging with Willowbrook Medical Practice on 1st April, meaning its premises will be closed down and all patients automatically transferred to the Willowbrook surgery.

The move comes after a year of negotiations and after the publication of the Care Quality Commission’s latest report on the Pantiles, which identified eight areas where standards were not being met and improvements needed.

A spokesman for the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Area Team of NHS England said that they had taken steps to ensure the practice was improving in the areas of non-compliance and to address additional areas raised through NHS England’s own monitoring systems.

This included a contractual action plan and monitoring the progress of the action plan required by the CQC.

However it was during this time that Dr Qudsia Chandran, the owner of the Pantiles, independently reached an agreement to merge with Willowbrook, which will also see her moving to the practice.

The NHS England spokesman added: “The Area Team has approved this merger due to a range of factors including the high quality of services available at Willowbrook Medical Centre.

“Both practices are making arrangements to ensure all patients affected are informed of the changes.”

The areas of non-compliance at the Pantiles identified in the CQC report included issues affecting patients and staff working at the practice.

Inspectors found that care and treatment were not always planned and delivered in a way that ensured patients’ safety and welfare, with problems with booking appointments for clinics and obstacles in the way of midwifery services.

Confidential patient information was not always locked away securely and there were no formal systems in place to reduce the risk and spread of infection.

One member of staff had not gone through any formal recruitment process, meaning the provider could not be sure if it was appropriate that they worked with patients, while staffing levels were too low to meet people’s needs.

Dr Qudsia Chandran said she was ‘convinced’ her patients would benefit from the merger.

“Pantiles is a 300-year-old building and may not suit the up-and-coming needs of modern general practice. I will be taking my patients and my staff to work at Willowbrook. There will be five other GPs and I am confident Pantiles and Willowbrook will work well together. Our patients will have a great advantage of a choice of several doctors and will be able to benefit from minor surgery and extended hours, which we couldn’t provide at the Pantiles,” she said.