NHS bosses have ordered an investigation into the sudden closure of a doctors’ surgery in Hove.
Goodwood Court Medical Centre closed after inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the risks to patient safety were too great if it stayed open.
This week James Thallon, the medical director of NHS England (South East), said: “We have commissioned an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Goodwood Court.”
Both partners in the practice, Andy Watts and Abu Osman, have been referred to the General Medical Council (GMC).
They can still work as GPs (general practitioners) but subject to conditions, including a requirement that they are supervised by another doctor.
Patients said that they had not seen Dr Osman at the practice in the weeks leading up to the closure.
Dr Thallon told the Brighton and Hove Health and Wellbeing Board that when practices closed there was often a complex mix of personal and private interest, much of which was confidential.
He cited the closure of Eaton Place, in Kemp Town, as a case where something appeared to go “catastrophically wrong” after the two doctors there handed back their contract.
But he said that the contract to run Goodwood Court had been withdrawn because of the “extremely poor quality service”.
He told the Health and Wellbeing Board meeting at the Brighthelm Centre on Tuesday (21 July) that CQC inspections of family doctors’ surgeries were new.
Dr Thallon said: “Their methods are still relatively controversial in GP-land. It’s not perfect.
“It would normally never be my opinion that the sudden closure of a practice was the right thing to do because there will always be unforeseen consequences.”
But, he said, “the service had fallen so far below the level that was reasonable to patients that the CQC was reasonable in the action that they took.”
He praised the Brighton Station Walk-In Centre for the immediate help that it provided and the Charter Medical Centre, in Hove, for taking over the patient list.
Charter has been given a contract to care for Goodwood Court patients until next April. The old Goodwood Court premises were not available for patient use, he said.
Councillor Dan Yates, who chairs the Health and Wellbeing Board, praised Healthwatch Brighton and Hove for the way in which it had helped patients in the days after the closure.
Dr Thallon added: “There is no doubt that the action that we took caused an amount of distress and uncertainty for patients. There is no question we could have done things better.”
He said that NHS England and others would aim to learn lessons and look at ways to improve their handling of the aftermath of the collapse of practices in future.