'Serious failings' at Sittingbourne GP practice

Image caption Inspectors said the Lakeside Medical Centre failed to meet 11 standards of safety and patient care

Patients at a GP surgery in Kent are at "unacceptable levels of risk", the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.

During an inspection, officials found Dr Bijan Saha's surgery in Sittingbourne failed to meet 11 standards of safety and patient care.

They identified "serious failings" at the Lakeside Medical Centre, including problems with privacy for patients, cleanliness and medication errors.

Dr Saha told the BBC he had no comment to make.

He is assisted by a GP, a practice manager and three administrative staff.

The regulator said it would be taking action against Dr Saha, who runs the practice in Todd Crescent, Church Milton, but no further details could be given for legal reasons.

Michele Golden, CQC's head of GP inspection in the South, said: "The issues that we have identified at Dr Saha's practice are very serious and we'd urge anyone who uses it to read our full report.

"We've shared our concerns with the rest of the local health economy and have asked that they also consider what action they may need to take to ensure that people using services at this practice are protected from harm.

"People using this practice are currently at unacceptable levels of risk and keeping them safe is a job for all of us."

Dr Saha was still practising but "under very close supervision from local health bodies including NHS England, a CQC spokesman added.

'Prescribing error'

Outside the surgery on Wednesday, some patients criticised the care they had received.

Gwen Willmott, who left the practice, said: "I wasn't happy with the situation. My husband died and I thought he could have had better treatment from them."

Swale councillor Mike Whiting said it had concerned residents in the area.

But he emphasised the practice was still in operation: "I've been down here today and I've spoken to the receptionist in there and it is business as usual in the surgery."

Image caption Swale councillor Mike Whiting said residents were concerned but the practice was open and it was "business as usual"

During the unannounced inspection in March, inspectors found the practice failed to meet national standards of care in 11 areas.

Patients told inspectors that practice staff would talk about other cases in their presence - breaching patient confidentiality.

A CQC spokesman added: "Repeat prescriptions were issued without reviews having taken place and were often printed by administrative staff on the verbal instructions of Dr Saha.

"This procedure had led to a prescribing error which could have had very serious consequences for the patient concerned."

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "These findings are shocking and cause a great concern to us.

"GPs are the first port of call for patients and to be faced with such poor quality of service is completely unacceptable."

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