Local Democracy Reporter’s investigation reveals why 12,000 people lost their GP surgery

A local democracy reporter’s investigation has revealed why a GP surgery lost its contract to treat patients, leaving 12,000 people looking for a new doctor.

Charlotte Green, an LDR based at the Manchester Evening News, reported that an Oldham GP practice lost its contract to treat patients after years of spiralling problems including a fraudster manager who swiped £580,000 to feed her gambling habit.

It followed damning watchdog reports outlining major problems at the practice, including missed diagnoses which could mean more than 170 people were never diagnosed with potentially life-altering kidney disease.

Inspectors’ findings on the surgery were so bleak it was put into special measures and local councillors were left ‘shocked’ at the report, Charlotte revealed.

These included a GP refusing to offer treatment to a child who had become very unwell on the premises, instead telling the youngster they needed to go to A&E, while staff were not properly recording key documentation, including ‘do not resuscitate’ orders.

Although not unusual for GP surgeries to be rated as ‘inadequate’ by inspectors, it is rare for GPs to be stripped of their contracts to provide services.

For that to happen there have to have been serious contract breaches, a significant risk of harm, and leaders have to be convinced that the only way to protect people is for them to be treated elsewhere.

The GP practice had been previously rated as good back in 2016 — and Charlotte’s investigation chronicle what had happened since.

The resulting article appeared on the Manchester Evening News website and also across BBC outlets in the region, has led to a debate among politicians about what needs to happen next.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, whose constituency covers Failsworth, said: “The very least my constituents deserve is an accessible and reliable service. It had become obvious that new leadership was needed at Failsworth Group Practice. Patient safety must always be the top priority.”

You can read Charlotte’s article here.

The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme funds 165 journalists across the UK to report on the affairs of local councils. It is run as a partnership between the BBC and reputable publishers who meet a set of criteria set by the BBC and News Media Association.

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

>> See the series so far, here

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