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Upminster Medical Centre under investigation

Upminster Medical Centre

The General Medical Council is investigating a Havering GP after health inspectors discovered “significant concerns” at her office three years ago.

Dr Farah Baig was a senior executive partner at Upminster Medical Centre in St Mary’s Lane when an unannounced inspection was conducted in June 2020.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) assessed the surgery, which had over 4,000 patients, as “inadequate” and cancelled the practice’s registration immediately.

The inspectors raised a number of concerns, including patients who were unaware they had health disorders including diabetes, a failure to learn from clinical mishaps, and “insufficient leadership.”

In April of last year, a tribunal of the GMC, which governs medical professionals, opened an inquiry and placed temporary limits on Dr Farah Baig’s licence to practise medicine.

The doctor, who became a GP in 2010, must notify the GMC of her where she is practising within seven days of moving practice, and be “closely supervised” by a responsible staff member.

The Upminster Medical Centre was managed by three doctors from the same family at the time of the 2020 inspection, Dr Farah Baig and senior partners Dr Mirza Baig and Dr Sabiha Baig.

Both senior partners, who have decades of experience as GPs, have recently retired from practising.

According to NHS documents, the concerns were “significant” enough to trigger a clinical harm evaluation by NHS England’s medical directors.

NHS North East London, which commissions local GP services, and NHS England were asked for comment, but neither offered an update on the clinical harm review results.

Following the 2020 inspection, Dr Baig told the Romford Recorder that the medical centre’s standards were strained due to the “gross pressures” of the pandemic and having a GP partner on maternity leave.

She said that the shutdown of hospital clinics and diagnostic services jeopardised follow-up treatment for diabetic patients and those on high-risk drugs.

She added: “Even blood tests and x-rays in the community, which could have been utilised by us to monitor our patients, became difficult to access.

“Sometimes the patients were themselves reluctant to go to those places where there was a risk of picking up Covid-19.

“A lot of this was reflected in our practice system and appeared to give the impression that we were negligent in the follow-up of these patients.”

Following the inspection, the Hurley Clinic Partnership was given a “caretaker” contract to run the surgery on short notice by East London’s NHS commissioner for GP services.

The Hurley Group, on the other hand, has now held the temporary caretaker contract for the past two and a half years.

In June of last year, a CQC inspection elevated Upminsters Medical Centre’s rating to excellent in all categories, including safe, effective, and well-led care.

According to inspectors, the medical centre comprises two general practitioners, two nurses and a part-time chemist who serve around 3,400 patients.

However, they noted that the requirement to renew the caretaker contract every three months made future planning “difficult” for practise leaders.

Upminster Medical Centre and Rainham Health Centre will now be operated by NHS North East London, which has opted to seek a long-term GP provider.

Concerns have been made concerning access to face-to-face consultations at Rainham Health Centre, which has also been administered by private contractor Omnes Healthcare under a caretaker contract since 2020.

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