Latest information on DMC Healthcare’s primary care services

16 July 2020

There have been some changes to GP surgeries run by DMC Healthcare. We will be keeping this page updated with the latest information.

The surgeries that are currently affected are:

  • St Werburgh Medical Practice, Hoo, and branch surgeries:
    • St Werburgh Lower Stoke
    • Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Gillingham
  • St Mary’s Island Surgery, Chatham, and branch surgeries:
    • Green Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Gillingham
    • Twydall Green Surgery, Twydall
    • Pentagon Centre (Boots), Chatham
    • Sunlight Centre Surgery, Gillingham
  • Kings Family Practice, Chatham

St Mary’s Medical Centre, Vicarage Road, Strood, is not affected.

On Wednesday, 5 August 2020, NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and DMC Healthcare agreed to mutually terminate three primary care contracts, meaning DMC Healthcare will no longer be the provider for the surgeries concerned from Wednesday, 2 September 2020.

The surgeries are: St Werburgh Medical Practice, Hoo, and its branch surgeries in Lower Stoke and Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre; St Mary’s Island Surgery, Chatham, and its branch surgeries at Green Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Twydall, the Pentagon Centre and the Sunlight Centre Surgery; and Kings Family Practice, Chatham.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) took urgent enforcement action at both St Werburgh Medical Practice and St Mary’s Island Surgery, which also applied to the relevant branch surgeries. Temporary provider Medway Practices Alliance (MPA) is currently running these surgeries with support from the CCG.

Patients can still call their usual surgery to access appointments and prescriptions. They do not need to find a new GP or take any other action.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with DMC Healthcare which is in the best interest of our patients. There will now be a handover period between DMC and MPA, the temporary provider, although much of this work is already in progress. A similar caretaking arrangement will also be put in place at Kings Family Practice.

“We can now move on to securing a long-term future for these surgeries that will provide patients with high quality, sustainable healthcare. We will begin to talk to other local GPs to find a solution and will be engaging with patients and other stakeholders in due course.

“Patients will continue to be cared for by the temporary provider until a long-term solution is in place so they can call their usual surgery to access services.” 

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors visited St Mary’s Island Surgery in Chatham on Friday 10 July 2020. As a result of this inspection, the CQC took immediate enforcement action at 5pm on Wednesday 15 July after finding significant and ongoing issues of patients being exposed to the risk of harm. People’s care needs were not being met and there was a lack of clinical leadership.  

The action affects St Mary’s Island Surgery, and also the branch surgeries of Green Suite at Balmoral Healthy Living Centre, Twydall Branch Surgery, the Pentagon Centre and the Sunlight Centre Surgery. DMC Healthcare has been providing services at the five GP sites since 1 April 2019, providing care to some 27,500 patients. The CQC’s action means they can no longer see patients at these sites.

In January 2020, the CQC rated the surgeries as ‘Inadequate’ overall which meant all five surgeries were in Special Measures.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Patients do not need to take any action. Since the CCG was informed of the CQC’s decision, we have been working hard to put a temporary provider in place to ensure there is minimal disruption to patient care.

“Medway Practices Alliance (MPA), the GP federation that brings together practices and GPs from across Medway to develop quality healthcare, will become the temporary provider with support from Medway Community Healthcare. Patients will be able to phone the practice for appointments and prescriptions as they normally would do.

“We will be working with MPA to ensure telephone appointments continue to be available. This week, patients requiring face-to-face appointments will be offered one at an alternative location. From Monday 20 July, face-to-face appointments will be available at St Mary’s Island Surgery. Patients should continue to ring their practice as usual.

“We will continue to work with MPA, Medway Community Healthcare and other local GP practices in order to return services to normal as quickly as possible.

“We have been concerned about DMC Healthcare for some time and have been working with them to improve services, including deploying staff to assist at each of the sites for several weeks prior to Covid-19. However, insufficient improvements were made, leading to the CQC’s enforcement action.”

The CQC recently took enforcement action at St Werburgh Medical Practice in Hoo, also run by DMC Healthcare. As always, the CCG is working with NHS England and the CQC to continue to monitor other services operated by DMC to ensure they are providing the level of patient care expected.

If patients need to escalate a complaint, they can visit www.dmchealthcare.co.uk/complaints.

St Mary’s Medical Centre, Vicarage Road, Strood, is not affected.

What’s happened?

  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors visited St Werburgh Medical Practice on Friday 19 June. As a result of this inspection, the CQC took urgent enforcement action on Wednesday 24 June.
  • This means that for the time being, patients may see a different healthcare professional but you will still be able to book appointments and get your prescriptions as usual.
  • From Monday 29 June, Medway Practices Alliance (MPA), a Federation that supports Medway practices, have staff based at St Werburgh Medical Practice. The aim is to keep things as normal as possible for patients.


Where can I can see a doctor now?

  • You can still phone the main surgery on 01634 250523 as usual to book an appointment.
  • Due to Covid-19, many appointments are being conducted virtually but if you need to see someone face-to-face, this will be arranged. The likelihood is you will be seen at St Werburgh Medical Practice. 
  • MPA is also working with neighbouring practices The Elms Medical Centre, Tilley Close, and Highparks Medical Practice, Park Side, Cliffe Woods, both of which will be supporting MPA with providing patient care if the need arises.  


I can’t get through to the surgery on the phone. What do I do?

  • The lines are currently very busy but a new telephone system is due to be installed by 17 July 2020. Extra staff are being deployed to answer the phones. Please bear with us. 


I usually attend the branch surgery at Lower Stoke or Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre. Where do I go now? 

  • In time, we hope to have clinics running at both branch surgeries.
  • For the moment, the best thing to do is to ring the main surgery on 01634 250523 to arrange an appointment.
  • Other practices at Balmoral Gardens are not affected.


Can I still get my prescription? 

  • Yes, prescriptions can be requested as usual and will be issued. The timeframes for processing are around 48 hours and the prescription will be sent to the nominated pharmacy, or you can collect it from the surgery.
  • If you use an app such as Patient Access or order your prescriptions online, that should work as usual. If you are experiencing issues with ordering, please call the surgery. 
  • The Ackers Pharmacy and all other pharmacies can be used to order prescriptions as before. 


I already have an appointment booked. Can I still attend?

  • Only a small number of appointments have been cancelled and you would have been informed. If you wish to confirm your appointment please contact the practice.


I have immunisations booked for my baby. What should I do?

  • Contact the surgery to confirm the appointment but MPA does not wish to delay the immunisations as they are very important.


Why weren’t patients told in advance?

  • The CQC took urgent action at 5pm on Wednesday 24 June - this was due to concerns about the safe delivery of services. The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), whose responsibility it is to ensure patients have access to services, immediately started to put temporary arrangements in place to minimise the disruption to patient care. 
  • In under three working days, a new temporary provider was in place.

A new temporary provider has been put in place at St Werburgh Medical Practice in Hoo, following the CQC’s recent urgent enforcement action meaning the registered provider cannot currently see patients.

Medway Practices Alliance (MPA), the GP federation that brings together practices and GPs from across Medway to develop quality healthcare, now has staff based at St Werburgh Medical Practice, Bells Lane, running the surgery.

MPA is also working with neighbouring practices The Elms Medical Centre, Tilley Close, and Highparks Medical Practice, Park Side, Cliffe Woods, both of which will be supporting MPA with providing patient care if the need arises. 

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and buys health services, said: “The most important thing to note is that patients do not need to take any action. We are very grateful to MPA, The Elms Medical Centre and Highparks Medical Practice for stepping in at short notice to ensure services are maintained and any disruption to patient care is kept to a minimum. We had to put a temporary solution in place for a couple of days following the CQC action but in under three working days, we have a new provider ready to see patients.” 

CQC inspectors visited St Werburgh Medical Practice on Friday 19 June 2020. As a result of this inspection, the CQC took urgent enforcement action at 5pm on Wednesday 24 June to protect patients using services there, and also in their branch surgeries of Stoke Village Hall and the Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre.

The registered provider has been in place at St Werburgh Medical Practice and its branch surgeries since 1 September 2018, providing care for some 11,000 patients. The other practices at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre are unaffected by the CQC’s decision and operating as usual, including Green Suite.

Wilf Williams said: “Now that MPA is based at St Werburgh, patients will be able to book appointments and get their prescriptions as usual, including those who use apps such as Patient Access. Due to Covid-19, many appointments are currently being conducted virtually but if patients need to see a healthcare professional, that can be arranged by calling the main surgery. As the situation develops we may need to call on other nearby surgeries for support but patients will be seen at their own surgery wherever possible.”

Clinics at the branch surgeries will also be available soon but in the meantime, patients can call St Werburgh Medical Practice to arrange an appointment.

Wilf Williams continued: “We are trying to keep patients up-to-date with what has been a fast-changing situation so I would advise those registered at St Werburgh to keep an eye on the CCG’s website and social media channels. As the CQC took urgent action over concerns about the safe delivery of services, unfortunately it was impossible to inform patients prior to their decision.”

CQC inspectors visited St Werburgh Medical Practice in Hoo on Friday, 19 June 2020. As a result of this inspection, the CQC took urgent enforcement action at 5pm on Wednesday, 24 June to protect patients using services there, and also in their branch surgeries of Stoke Village Hall and Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre. 

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Patients do not need to take any action. The CCG is working hard to ensure services are maintained as usual and any disruption to patient care is kept to a minimum.

“The provider has been in place at St Werburgh Medical Practice and its branch surgeries in Stoke and Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre since 1 September 2018, providing care for some 11,000 patients.

“The CQC’s decision means patients will be seen by an alternative healthcare professional in the immediate future but they can still ring their surgery as usual. Patients will be directed to an appointment with the Improved Access Primary Care Hub service which provides additional capacity to our GP practices, including in the evenings and at weekends. Due to Covid-19, most appointments are currently being conducted remotely but if patients need a face-to-face appointment, this will be arranged.

“We have been supporting the provider for some time, focussing on putting the correct governance, policies and procedures in place to enable staff to transform the services offered to patients. Unfortunately, insufficient progress was made but we will continue to work with them, while also ensuring temporary arrangements are in place for patients.”

If patients need to escalate a complaint, in the first instance they should write to:

St Werburgh Medical Practice
98 Bells Lane
Hoo
Rochester 
ME3 9HU.

As the situation develops, this website will be kept updated so please check back for the latest information.

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