INSPECTORS have uncovered a catalogue of failings at some GP practices, with medicines stored in a way that puts children and patients at risk of infection and rooms so dirty they had maggots.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out inspections at 1,000 practices across England and found examples of “very poor care” that put patients at risk.
While many people received an excellent service, a third of surgeries failed to meet at least one of the required standards on good practice and protecting patients.
In 10 practices “there were very serious failings that could potentially affect thousands of people”, the regulator said, and in 90 practices follow-up inspections had to be ordered to ensure improvements were made.
Some GPs left private medical files lying around, had medicines that were out of date, filthy treatment rooms and employed staff who had not undergone criminal record checks.
In one of the better-performing practices, inspectors found maggots and dirty conditions, while in another consulting rooms had no doors and people could hear what was being said to the GP.
In some surgeries, emergency drugs were out of date or stored on the floor, and fridges were not always checked to ensure they were at the right temperature.
The CQC said this puts children in particular at risk because failure to store vaccines at the right temperature can reduce their effectiveness.
At Dale Surgery in Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, inspectors found maggots and other insects, as well as dust and cobwebs.
In one Birmingham practice, people were queuing outside and “taking stools to sit on” in order to make an appointment.
In another practice, oxygen cylinders were out of date.
At another in Leeds, the inspectors turned up but there were no GPs.
The reports come as Professor Steve Field, the CQC’s new chief inspector of general practice, said some of the standards were “so basic, so fundamental”.
He set out his new approach for the inspection and regulation of GPs and GP out-of-hours services which will start in April, with all practices to be inspected within two years. From January, new inspections will also focus on GP out-of-hours services.
Prof Field said: “We need to make sure that everyone, from the most well-off to the most disadvantaged, can get access to really good primary medical care.
“When something goes wrong in general practice, it has the potential to affect thousands of local people. GPs don’t work in isolation, so we will also be considering the quality of communication between out-of-hours care and other local services, including GP practices, care homes and emergency services.”
Maureen Baker, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Breaches of procedure cannot be condoned – even if they are isolated incidents – but the inspections were largely targeted at particular practices which had already been identified as having problems.
“Specific areas for improvement have been found and the CQC must now work with these practices to ensure that they meet the necessary standards and that other practices can learn from their experiences.”
Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “While most patients receive high-quality care from their GP, we need to understand where and why shortcomings in a small number of practices exist, and the BMA is committed to working with the chief inspector to improve standards.
“It’s important, however, that anecdotes of poor practice are not used to distort the reality, which is that the overwhelming majority of hard-working GPs provide high-quality care which is appreciated by patients.”