Norfolk GP surgery found to have put hundreds of its patients at risk

Orchard Court Surgery in Dereham. PHOTO: IAN BURT

Orchard Court Surgery in Dereham. PHOTO: IAN BURT - Credit: IAN BURT

A GP surgery put hundreds of its patients at risk by failing to correctly monitor them while on complex medications, an inspection has found.

Orchard Surgery, in Dereham, has been placed into special measures by the Care Quality Commission after inspectors found a host of failings in how the site is run.

While the practice's staff were praised for being caring - and rated 'good' in this area - several concerns were raised around the practice's record-keeping, the way medicines were managed and how patients were monitored.

Orchard Surgery on Commercial Road in Dereham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Orchard Surgery on Commercial Road in Dereham. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Inspectors found that dozens of patients on high-risk medicines were not being properly monitored, including 72 people with asthma who were prescribed steroids and 90 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who had gone a year without being reviewed.

The report also stated that mistakes were made on the records of several patients, including one with diabetes and another with chronic kidney disease.

Other concerns included:

  • 3,338 patients on repeat prescriptions had gone more than a year without a review - 2,612 of whom had gone more than 18 months
  • 13 potential missed diabetes diagnoses
  • A backlog of 700 patient letters waiting to be reviewed - the surgery told inspectors there were none

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Workers told inspectors that the surgery was frequently short-staffed and forced to either rely on locums or ask existing staff to take on extra hours.

The report highlighted one instance in which a change to medication made by a hospital had not been noted properly by the practice, meaning the patient was continued on an inappropriate dosage. 

A spokesman for the practice said: "The partners and staff at Orchard Surgery take the latest inspection rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) very seriously and are working closely with the CQC and NHS Norfolk and Waveney to make the required improvements as soon as possible.

“The CQC summary did highlight that the practice was rated “good” for caring and that staff dealt with patients with kindness and respect and involved them in decisions about their care.

“While the inspection rating is disappointing, we would like to assure patients that their health care needs are of paramount importance to us.

"The team is working to introduce more efficient processes and have taken a wide range of measures to address the concerns raised to further improve the way we deliver care to our patients."