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Update as at 31 July 2018

Back in December 2017 the health watchdog The Care Quality Commission (known as the CQC) carried out an inspection of Sutherland Lodge Surgery. When they visited, we were continuing to implement a transformation plan which we had put in place after taking on the surgery.

While we knew improvements were needed, Inspectors identified a number of areas where they felt that additional improvements could be made and we immediately set about implementing the action plan we’d put in place and Inspectors returned a month  later to check on our progress.  The report for this inspection, which acknowledges improvements had been made in the short time frame, was published in June 2018.

Although there is a lag to the publication of their feedback, we are very pleased that Inspectors visited us again on 4 July 2018 to review the progress we’d been making. They were very positive in their feedback to us about the steps we’d taken and we are confident that their inspection report will show the significant improvements to the practice which those of you who have visited us will be seeing for yourself.

Alongside the changes the CQC asked us to implement, we’ve continued to also make other improvements aimed at making the practice better for you – we’re working on improving access by phone, promoting online booking and we’ve been welcoming new staff on board too.

As well as welcoming primary care managers from other areas of Virgin Care – where the majority of practices are rated ‘good’ by the CQC – to support our improvement plan, we’re also welcoming new permanent members of the team.

I’ve summarised some of our key achievements below. We will continue to update this page in the future as we make further improvements. Our aim is to deliver a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ service and while there is much work to do to get there, we are confident we have the right team and the right plan, with Virgin Care’s national support and scale, to deliver an improved practice for the people of Chelmsford.

Practice Manager.

Our team

  • Around half of our GPs are now permanent members of the team and we have a recruitment programme in place so that all of our team will eventually be in permanent roles. We have long-term agreements in place with our locum doctors to cover in the meanwhile.
  • On reception and in our administration team we are almost fully staffed with just one vacancy in the reception team.
  • We have appointed a new Senior Service Manager to support all Virgin Care’s practices in Essex.


  • During August we offered on average per week 680 GP appointments, 190 Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Prescriber appointments, 390 Practice Nurse appointments and 145 Healthcare Assistant appointments.
  • We’re continuing to offer a fixed number of ‘on the day’ appointments as well as additional ‘emergency’ appointments released in the morning and afternoon.
  • We continue to offer access to the Duty Doctor for both telephone and face to face consultations from 8.30am until 6.30pm Monday to Friday.
  • ‘Routine’ appointments are available to book by phone and through Online Booking four weeks in advance.

Clinical Leadership and Governance

  • Virgin Care’s national Clinical Governance Framework is now in place in the practice, and although we continue to establish this – a process which takes several months – it is working effectively and training and development needs are now fully understood.
  • We have clarified each of the roles of our team – even where team members duties have not changed in some time – so that everyone is clear on what they are responsible for.


Long Term Conditions

  • We’ve put in place a new process for calling patients with Long Term Conditions (LTC) (like asthma, depression, COPD) back into the practice for a review of their condition and medication.
  • We’ve put in place a plan to ensure everyone with an LTC is called back into the practice when they should be. If you have a LTC, you’ll be called back at the next scheduled review – unless you proactively visit us sooner.
  • We have put an internal monitoring process in place.

Record of staff training

  • The team can now access training information on our ‘MyLearning’ portal.
  • Training compliance is at 96%.
  • We’ve trained additional staff – taking us up to 10 – to act as chaperones.


Processes for implementing new best practice guidance

  • The Clinical Alert System has been re-launched in the practice and we have updated our clinical system to show an icon when a clinician has new guidance they haven’t read.
  • The role of the Virgin Care national group in reviewing new NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines and best practice has been established at Sutherland Lodge. 


  • All of our team has now received Customer Service Training.
  • We’ve cascaded our policy and toolkits to the team and everyone is clear on how complaints should be managed.
  • We are monitoring complaint response times and ensuring compliance with them.
  • Patients have been reminded that complaints can be logged with the practice, or directly to Virgin Care’s Customer Experience Team on 0300 303 9509 or by email


  • We’ve taken steps to ensure that letters received from hospitals (known as secondary care) are actioned quickly, to ensure we do not have a backlog.