Nexus Health Group, responsible for eight GP practices across Southwark, has been rated inadequate and put in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a damning report revealed more than 1,000 test results had been left in limbo.
Nexus merged the previously independent Princess Street Group Practice in Elephant and Castle, with Surrey Docks Health Centre, Aylesbury Medical Centre, The Dun Cow Surgery, Commercial Way Surgery, Decima Street Surgery, Artesian Health Centre, and Manor Place Surgery in 2016.
After inspections at the group’s Princess Street headquarters, and each individual surgery throughout November, a CQC report has given the group the lowest rating overall and highlighted a series of shocking safety concerns.
More than 1,000 test results, dating back to July 2018, were found across its sites that had either not been filed or not even viewed and filed by doctors.
Four-hundred-and-forty-two of these were marked as ‘abnormal’. Out of a sample of 30 cases inspectors reviewed, there were five where the appropriate course of action had not been taken.
Inspectors also found a backlog of 4,187 outstanding clinical tasks dating back to February 13, 2017, which still had not been completed. After a warning notice, these have now been cleared. Patients told the News of problems accessing repeat prescriptions and missing letters.
Although examples of care were praised, with the kindness of its team particularly noted, inspectors highlighted staff shortages, lack of adequate systems, staff training gaps, and expired medical equipment. Some staff had not taken necessary DBS checks or infection control training.
The service is now in special measures and will be inspected again within six months. If Nexus fails to improve as required, the group could find itself under review as a care provider.
A spokesperson for Nexus said its partners were aware of patients’ concerns raised by the inspections last year: “Since that time the practice has been working hard to address the issues that were raised to ensure that patients receive a safe and high-quality service, and ensure that no significant harm has occurred to patients.
“Since the visit we have developed and implemented a clear action plan to address the areas highlighted and will continue to review these actions.
“We have contacted and addressed any outstanding actions with all patients identified by our review of these issues.
“We have established processes to ensure that improved systems are in place and monitored in the areas highlighted by the CQC.
The group’s leaders say they are ‘confident’ their rating will improve.
Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Chair of NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told the News patients were understandably concerned by the serious issues highlighted by the report and said the CCG had been working with Nexus to address the issues and ensure no ‘significant harm’ came to patients.
“Nexus has developed and implemented a clear action plan to address the highlighted areas, and has contacted all patients requiring an urgent review and treatment to invite them to attend an appointment,” he said.
“The CCG is confident that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that errors like this do not happen again. However, if any patient is worried or concerned, please contact your practice directly.
“Please be assured that the CCG will continue to monitor these improvements closely, and together with Nexus, ensure that the practice delivers high quality, safe, effective and timely care for their patients.
“The CQC will also be closely monitoring the delivery of the action plan and will undertake a further inspection visit within six months.”
How Nexus Health Group was rated in each area
- Safe – Inadequate
- Effective – Requires Improvement
- Caring – Good
- Responsive – Requires Improvement
- Well-led – Inadequate
How specific services were rated
- People with long-term conditions – Requires Improvement
- Families, children and young people – Requires Improvement
- Older people – Requires Improvement
- Working age people – Requires improvement
- People experiencing poor mental health (including dementia) – Requires Improvement
- People whose circumstances may make them vulnerable – Requires Improvement