Dear Wokingham Medical Centre patients,
Some of you may have seen a recent press article about our latest CQC inspection. Rather than submitting a response to the paper – which would inevitably have been cut and editorialised – we have outlined our response below.
The Partners of Wokingham Medical Centre wish to state right at the outset that we totally and unequivocally reject the CQC report conclusion – and we have the data to support our assessment. We regard the report as erroneous and misleading and as a result, we have submitted a formal ‘rating review’. We are doing everything in our power to overturn the report’s conclusion. Our staff are committed to the very highest standards of safety and of patient care and they do an exceptional job in very difficult circumstances.
The CQC report states that the ‘practice monitored and recorded temperature of the fridges and also had data loggers in each fridge… we found numerous occasions where the temperature had gone out of the recommended ranges and no action had been taken by the practice.’ We dispute this assessment unequivocally.
We have taken exhaustive and extensive advice from both the vaccine suppliers and the fridge manufacturers. To use slightly technical terminology, the cold chain was never broken and therefore the vaccines were – and are – perfectly safe. It appears that CQC inspectors are unaware that vaccine and fridge air temperatures may be – and are allowed to be – different, and that this does not compromise vaccine safety.
We therefore wish to assure all our patients that, contrary to the CQC report, our vaccines are appropriately stored, monitored and transported in line with Public Health England guidance.
Timely access to the service
The CQC have concluded that ‘People were not able to access care and treatment in a timely way’ in their report. Again, we reject this completely and have the objective data to support our assessment.
CQC have based this conclusion on the National Patient Survey – which sampled 126 out of our 22,943 patients. In other words, the verdict that our patients were not able to access timely care is attributed to a sample size of 0.55%.
Even if we overlook the lack of statistical robustness of the above data, and the dangers of making any operational conclusions from them, we were able to demonstrate to the CQC that we provide 6% more appointments over a 12-month period than is recommended by NHS England. This is despite – as most of you will know – having seen a substantial reduction in the number of GP’s at the medical centre owing to retirements and a GP recruitment crisis.
Furthermore – and in addition to the above figure – we provide unlimited video appointments and unlimited contacts via our website.
Lastly, we were able to show to the CQC our Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) data demonstrating that we clearly and unequivocally are able to provide timely care as evidenced by the rates at which our patients attend the local A&E departments, the Bracknell Urgent Care Centre and the Reading Walk-In Centre. In all cases the rates of attendance are either approximately equal to other Wokingham locality practices or substantially lower. Labouring the point slightly – if we were not providing timely care, our patients would have no option but to attend the above institutions for their healthcare needs. And they are demonstrably not.
In conclusion, we deeply regret that such a flawed report by CQC may have contributed to patient anxiety and we hope that this statement will help to allay any concerns. We are clear that our fridge processes are robust, are based on Public Health England guidance and are supported by the vaccine suppliers and fridge manufacturers. Furthermore, at a time of massive instability in General Practice, it is clear that we have robust empirical data confirming that our patients are indeed able to access safe and timely care.
Finally, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and we hope that you all have a healthy and peaceful New Year.
Wokingham Medical Centre