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Update on our Improvement Plan 09/01

Sutherland Lodge Surgery receives improved CQC rating

 Update on our improvement plan

I am very pleased to let you know that following another inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in November the report published today recognises “significant improvements made to the quality of care” provided by Virgin Care at Sutherland Lodge Surgery.

In fact the CQC has rated the service as ‘good’ for the two measures of ‘caring’ and ‘responsive to people’s needs’ and has taken us out of special measures.

The CQC also said it “saw one area of outstanding practice – the surgery has created ‘positivity packs’ designed to help vulnerable patients such as those with mental health conditions and the homeless.”

Less than a year after the CQC rated the service as ‘inadequate’ overall inspectors have upgraded the overall rating to ‘requires improvement’.

We are very proud that the hard work of our team at Sutherland Lodge has been recognised and that we have delivered such an improvement in just under 12 months, as we promised we would.

We’re committed to continuing to improve the practice to deliver high quality care for you and we’re determined to gain at least a ‘good’ rating for Sutherland Lodge or even, in time, ‘outstanding’.

I have listed some of the positive comments from the CQC below and also an update on other improvements we have been working on.

Susan Wray, Practice Manager

Findings in the report include –


  • Staff involved and treated patients with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect. Patient we spoke with told us the care they had received by the staff at the practice was always carried out professionally and in a caring manner.
  • Staff understood patients’ personal, cultural, social and religious needs.
  • Staff communicated with people in a way that they could understand, for example, communication aids and easy read materials were available.
  • The practice proactively identified carers and supported them.
  • The practice respected patients’ privacy and dignity. When patients wanted to discuss sensitive issues or appeared distressed reception staff offered them a private room to discuss their needs.


  • The practice understood the needs of its population and tailored services in response to those needs.
  • Telephone consultations were available which supported patients who were unable to attend the practice during normal working hours.
  • Patients were able to access care and treatment from the practice within an acceptable timescale for their needs. Patients had timely access to initial assessment, test results, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Waiting times, delays and cancellations were minimal and managed appropriately.
  • Patients with the most urgent needs had their care and treatment prioritised.

‘Positivity packs’

These are bags containing items such as bath bombs, face packs, colouring books and positive, inspiring comments written on a piece of card. They are intended for patients suffering from mental health problems who are in need of support. The surgery has a safe space for these patients to come in and talk to one of the Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANP) who discuss how they can help. If it is felt appropriate they will be given a ‘positivity pack’ as a ‘pick me up’. The ANP checks up on the patient with a telephone call a few days later. Patients have said that they found this approach helpful and did appreciate the packs

Our team

Recently we’ve recruited a new GP so we now have four permanent doctors in post. We’re continuing to recruit for GPs at all of our Essex practices, offering incentives such as a generous package and flexible working.

Since August 2018, we have also recruited an assistant service manager,  a practice nurse, two advanced nurse practitioners, a healthcare assistant and three reception colleagues.

Telephone system

We are continuing to work with our partners in the NHS to consider alternative options for the telephone system at the practice. In the meantime, we have continued to improve responsiveness when patients call us and while there will always be busy times – such as on Monday mornings – I think you will agree that we have significantly reduced the average waiting time.


We continue to offer and exceed the number of appointments that our contract requires us to offer to patients. We are offering a minimum of 650 appointments with a GP per week, compared with a contractual requirement of 530. We are also  meeting commitments for appointments with our nurses and health care assistants.

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