Devon dental practice rebuked by inspectors for putting patients at risk

A dental practice in Devon is to face intense scrutiny by health bosses after continually failing to protect patients from risk of unsafe care. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today published a formal warning to the Duke Street Dental Practice, at South Molton, that it must make urgent improvements or face further action.

Since the inspection, the surgery has come under the management of new owners, IDH Acquisitions, who said they were working hard to address the issues highlighted and bring services for patients up to standard.

However, the CQC inspectors said that when they visited the practice it had failed to meet seven key national standards and that a warning notice previously issued had failed to prompt improvements.

The CQC said it had now referred its concerns to the regulator, the General Dental Council, which can take further enforcement action.

NHS England acknowledged that the new owners had taken swift action, but said it had nonetheless issued a breach of contract notice as a result of the CQC findings.

Sampana Banga, CQC’s head of dentistry inspection said two consecutive inspections had revealed serious concerns.

“Even after we had warned the Duke Street General Practice that they were failing to protect their patients properly, they did not go far enough to improve,” he said.

“On our second inspection - we identified further concerns, even though we had been assured that most of these matters had been dealt with.

“People are entitled to services which are safe, effective, caring, well led, and responsive to their needs. We expect the Duke Street Dental Practice to ensure standards are met.”

The latest inspection found that despite some improvements, significant concerns remained, including:

*Patients were not provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about their treatment.

*Patients may not have received the care and treatment they needed.

*Infection control practices put patients health and welfare at risk.

*The storage and management of medicines were not carried out safely in accordance with current good practice.

*Some staff had not received the required employment checks.

*The provider did not have effective systems to assess and monitor the quality of the service.

A spokesman for NHS England (Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly) said swift action had been taken by the new owners

“NHS England has already issued a breach of contract notice requiring the practice to make immediate changes in response to the CQC visit, all of which have been completed.

“We will continue to work with the CQC and the practice to ensure that all other improvements set out in the inspection report are carried out fully and in line with the stated timescales.

“We welcome the swift action that has been taken by the new owners, and are confident that they are acting to safeguard the standards of NHS dentistry that we require for people in and around South Molton.”

A spokesman for IDH said the surgery was purchased from Murgelas Practice Management Limited (MPM) in May and as part of the process was advised of issues identified on the CQC in inspection reports.

"Prior to completing the purchase, IDH consulted with the CQC inspectorate and with their agreement undertook to make the required improvemen," said the spokesman.

"Since acquiring MPM, IDH have been working with NHS England (Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Area Team) to rectify these issues and will carry out a significant refurbishment project later this month at the South Molton site to further improve the practice and surgery environments.

"MPM has three other locations, one of which since the purchase has already been completely refurbished and the premises given a compliant outcome from the CQC’s re-inspection. The remaining two sites were both compliant at their last CQC inspections.

"IDH is committed to investing in all of MPM’s practices and to improve the facilities and services provided for our customers and patients and to comply with CQC’s requirements. We were pleased to see that NHS England (Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Area Team) has today acknowledged the progress made in their statement on this matter."