Inspectors have uncovered a catalogue of failings at some GP practices, with medicines stored in a way that puts children and patients at risk of infection and rooms so dirty they had maggots.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) health regulator carried out inspections at 1,000 practices across England and found examples of “very poor care” that put patients at risk.
While many people received an excellent service, a third of surgeries (34 per cent) failed to meet at least one of the required standards on good practice and protecting patients.
In 10 practices “there were very serious failings that could potentially affect thousands of people”, the CQC said, and in 90 practices follow-up inspections had to be ordered to ensure improvements were made.
Some GPs left private medical files laying around, had medicines that were out of date, filthy treatment rooms and employed staff who had not undergone criminal record checks.
In one of the better-performing practices, inspectors found maggots and dirty conditions, while in another consulting rooms had no doors and people could hear what was being said to the GP.
In some surgeries, emergency drugs were out of date or stored on the floor, and fridges were not always checked to ensure they were at the right temperature.
The CQC said this puts children in particular at risk because failure to store vaccines at the right temperature can reduce their effectiveness, leading to an outbreak of a contagious childhood disease such as measles.
The reports come as Professor Steve Field, the CQC’s new chief inspector of general practice, set out his new approach for the inspection and regulation of GPs and GP out-of-hours services.
He said: “We found some surgeries where there were out of date vaccines in the fridge”, adding that people who think they are immune but are not could pick up an illness and become “very, very poorly and then die”.
He added: “That could affect many hundreds of patients in single surgeries.
“If they’ve not tracked it for years, that’s a major problem.”
He said a woman who thought she was immune to German measles due to vaccination could potentially give birth to a deaf and blind baby.
“You are talking about problems which can damage this generation and the next generation,” he said.