Previously 'Outstanding' GP surgery which the Tories privatised and handed to Virgin Care now in 'Special Measures'

Sutherland Lodge Surgery in Chelmsford, Essex, was rated as outstanding. Then, the Tories cut its Personal Medical Services funding by £400,000, forcing its GP partners out. Virgin Care took over and, 18 months later, the Surgery has been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

In the private hands of Virgin Care, Sutherland Lodge Surgery has seen the standard of care dispensed within its four walls disintegrate like the green, mottled skin of the woman in room 237

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In addition to dispensing medicine to a child that is potentially unsafe for under-18s, the Care Quality Commission Report highlighted a litany of failures from Sutherland Lodge.

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Staff weren’t trained to correct clinical standards. Medicines and equipment were stored at the incorrect temperature, and nurses did nothing upon finding that out.

The corporate structure for complaints handling was ineffective and didn’t translate to change on the ground. There was no continuity of care, and there was no assessment of individual patients’ needs. 

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The problems at Sutherland Lodge, brought on by its privatisation at the hands of the bloated, heaving tic, Virgin Care, are multitudinous. 

To make the failures all the more despicable, Virgin Care has wrought this degradation while receiving more funding than under the previous contract, which it took over from. Following a Freedom of Information request by GPonline, it has transpired that the contract value of the deal awarded to Virgin Care is 14% higher than the previous arrangement.

This, after Doctors had felt compelled to leave the Surgery because Tory cuts had threatened their ability to earn a living so drastically.

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Sutherland Lodge Surgery is now in special measures. The Care Quality Commission Chief Inspector of General Practice, Professor Steve Field, has said this:

“The service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action. Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within a further six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to vary the provider’s registration to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.”

If you read that carefully, you’ll note that the Surgery may have to be closed.

That’s potentially thousands of people who may be without a GP because of the repeating, attritional, incessant failure of privatisation and this Government’s willing ignorance to its destructive effects. 

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Virgin Care, the parasitic subsidiary of Virgin Healthcare Holdings Ltd, the subsidiary of Virgin UK Holdings Ltd, which is the subsidiary of Virgin Group Holdings Ltd, based in a tax haven with a single shareholder – the leech who sucks the fat from Britain’s wealth and pays next to nothing back, Richard Branson – is making strident and more strident leaps into British healthcare.

The expansion comes after Virgin Care Ltd made more than £200m out of the NHS, without paying a penny in corporation tax. 

This is the same company that sued the NHS after losing out on an NHS contract and won an undisclosed settlement.

While Virgin Care Ltd, its multiple parent companies and its chief, are parasitical entities growing bloated and bulbous off essential public services on which the British people rely, the root issue isn’t them. It is a Tory Government that has adhered to a perverse ideology of privatisation equating to efficiency. One that has been shown time and time again to be erroneous. 

This is what happens when profit is allowed a place in healthcare and when political accountability is stripped from the people. In just under two months, a company that has sued the NHS and repeatedly failed to carry out its public contracts, has once more failed. 

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