A YORK GP practice which was branded ‘inadequate’ and put in special measures less than a year ago has now been rated ‘good’ by a health watchdog.

Unity Health - which runs the Kimberlow Hill surgery in Heslington and the Wenlock Terrace surgery off Fulford Road - has been taken out of special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after it found it had made ‘significant improvements.’

The commission, which imposed a number of conditions following an inspection last May, said after an inspection last month that it now felt services were safe, caring, responsive and well led.

Its comments included: “Staff treated patients with kindness, respect and compassion... Staff helped patients to be involved in decisions about care and treatment...The practice organised and delivered services to meet patients’ needs.”

It also said people were able to access care and treatment in a timely way, there was compassionate, inclusive and effective leadership at all levels and the practice had clear systems, practices and processes to keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse.

However the practice still needed to continue improving the telephone system to improve access to appointments and improve the uptake of cervical cancer screening.

The Press revealed last May that the practice’s new telephone system had left patients hanging on the phone for hours, while trying in vain to make an appointment.

Patients subsequently slated the surgery as ‘abysmal,’ ‘horrendous’ and ‘almost laughably bad’ in reviews posted on an NHS Choices website.

Patients’ comments included ‘Impossible to get an appointment, ‘What’s the point of a GP you can’t get through to’ and ‘ Go anywhere else.’

Unity Health partner Dr Richard Wilcox said yesterday he was ‘absolutely thrilled’ that the work put in to turn the practice around had been recognised so ‘emphatically.’

He said: “We recognise that in some areas, particularly around telephone access to appointments, we haven’t been delivering the service our patients expect.

“Hopefully the CQCs latest findings will provide assurance that our focus is very much on quality and continuous improvement.”

He said recent improvements made by Unity Health included:

*Refurbishing the Wenlock Terrace surgery premises

*Recruiting new reception, nursing and support staff

*Overhauling the complaints system

*Working with an expert nurse manager from the Royal College of GPs to redesign the skill mix and training of staff

It had also carried out a full health and safety audit across all premises and re-formed a Patient Participation Group (PPG) as a sounding board for new ideas.

It had also introduced drop-in sessions for patients and students to meet members of the team, ask questions and make suggestions.