South Chadderton GP fears for the future of family practice's as she responds to damning CQC report

Date published: 02 June 2021

South Chadderton GP Dr Anita Sharma has responded with a “deep sense of sadness for patients and hard-working staff” and has spoken of her concern that “the death of the small family practice is imminent”, after inspectors placed her Eaves Lane surgery into special measures.

Dr Sharma’s Eaves Lane Surgery in Chadderton has seen its overall rating given as ‘inadequate’, for the second time.

Acknowledging that lessons can always be learnt, and improvements made following the damning assessment, Dr Sharma none-the-less claimed that inspectors from the Care Quality Commission had failed to acknowledge that the practice had continued to care for its patients during the worst health crisis in recent history and had offered no understanding of the pressures small practices in urban areas are under.

“In all my years of practising medicine, I have never known such a devastating time for both physical and mental health issues,” said Dr Sharma.

"In south Chadderton, the challenges presented by fear of debt, losing jobs and homes and contracting a deadly virus have been enormous and yet our staff has put their lives on the line to deal with this.

"Our patients have been consistently pleased that baby clinics, vaccinations for the vulnerable and personalised care for the terminally ill have remained throughout the pandemic.

"And yet the response of the inspectorate is to simply home in on the negative and reward our endeavour with hurtful and occasionally entirely unjust criticism.”

Dr Sharma, who is a national expert on women’s health, has also been a pioneer in highlighting conditions such as endometriosis, period poverty and homelessness.

None of these elements were referenced in the snap-shot study.

Neither was the fact that her surgery is the only one in the borough providing a pessary clinic to support often older women with prolapses – even buying products for them out of their own pockets.

Of major alarm was the fact that South Chadderton is not alone in being a small surgery singled-out for criticism.

Added Dr Sharma: “Drained by criticism and under severe pressure, the traditional family practice will simply fade away.

"Older folks will then be forced to travel miles across the borough to big health centres with dwindling patient transport services available and you will no longer have that personal relationship with your GP that makes spotting conditions so much more effective.

"If they do survive, I wonder how many medical students will want to work in a small practice that has been starved of resources and under scrutiny by people who have never worked in that situation.”

Dr Sharma concluded: “We will of course delve deeply into the CQC report and see what can be achieved to make the patient experience at South Chadderton even better.

"What I would say though, is that independent reports like this are meant to inform, help and be constructive.

"Right now, it feels as if they are simply critical, and my main task will be to restore morale and do all that we can to preserve the service our practice offers to our valued patients.”

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