AN OXFORD GP practice has improved background checks for staff but a health watchdog still has concerns about a lack of monitoring for patients on high-risk medication.

Botley Medical Centre, in Elms Road, Botley, was downgraded from good to requires improvement by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors last year after issues were raised over patient safety and recruitment checks.

The regulator revisited the GP practice, which also run Kennington Health Centre after merging in 2017, on October 17.

ALSO READ: Patients stuck in ambulances outside A&E for an hour

A report released last month stated: “At our previous inspection in March 2019 we found that not all recruitment checks had been completed and the practice did not have a system in place to determine whether staff were physically and mentally fit to take up employment. At this inspection we reviewed nine staff recruitment files and found all necessary checks had been completed.

“The practice had also introduced a system of pre-employment health screening.”

The CQC report, however, went on to say information from the practice during the inspection indicated the system for prescribing high-risk medicines was 'not working effectively'.

It added: "The practice did not always provide care in a way that kept patients safe and protected them from avoidable harm. The processes in place to manage prescribing of high-risk medicines were not operated effectively or consistently."

ALSO READ: Plans for new music therapy studio at mental health hospital

The report explained that during the inspection random patient record checks had been done and more than 60 patients were judged to be at risk due to a lack of monitoring.

It said: "At the time of inspection information available indicated that patients prescribed high-risk medicines were at risk because the tests that were required to inform either continued prescribing or dosage changes were not being carried out. The practice governance processes had not identified that the system to support safe prescribing of high-risk medicines was not following guidance issued by the General Medical Council in February 2013."

The report said the practice produced late data outside of the inspection period which was the accurate data used for managing the recall process to monitor patients prescribed high risk medicines.

This data showed the numbers of patients previously identified at risk was 'significantly lower' than the 65 found during the inspection and was actually 15.

It added GPs carried out an audit after the inspection to ensure these 15 patients were followed up and 'appropriate monitoring carried out or scheduled as a priority'.

Read our original report about the medical centre when it could not prove one of its doctors was professionally registered

Dr Aintzane Ballestero, senior partner at Botley Medical Centre, said: “We are pleased that the CQC inspectors found the practice offers effective, timely and respectful care to all our patient groups and that we have achieved an improvement in our staff recruitment procedures

“Of course we are disappointed that there are still some areas that require improvement, particularly around how well we follow up patients who don’t attend appointments for monitoring their medication."

“We have put in place systems to better manage these patients. We understand there may be many reasons why patients don’t turn up for their monitoring appointments; however we want to take this opportunity to remind patients how important it is that they have their long-term medication regularly reviewed and their condition checked when requested by the practice.”