Staff at an acclaimed Exeter GP surgery were thrilled when a leading light of England’s health and social regulator popped in to say ‘hello’ and congratulate them on their efforts.
The Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of general practice, Professor Steve Field, visited the Clock Tower Surgery which caters exclusively for the homeless and vulnerably housed earlier this month.
With the surgery, which is located within the award-winning CoLab wellbeing hub at Wat Tyler House in the city centre, being adjudged ‘outstanding’ when it was inspected by the CQC last year, Prof Field jumped at the chance to pop in and take a look for himself while in Devon on business.
“It’s a real privilege to come to the Clock Tower here in very cold Exeter,” Prof Field told staff at the surgery which is operated by Access Health Care – a subsidiary of Devon Doctors, the not-for-profit organisation which has been responsible for providing urgent out-of-hours care across the county for 20-plus years.
“I’m hugely impressed by the quality of care that’s provided for the vulnerable people of Exeter. The dedication of staff is exemplary and you can feel the warmth as you come into the building – the care is there for everyone to see.
“The Clock Tower is one of the very few ‘outstanding’ practices in England and, therefore, is one of the best GP services in the country and I am absolutely thrilled to be able to come and say ‘well done’ to the staff, because it is really difficult providing such high quality care to vulnerable patients.
“I think this is definitely one of the best surgeries I have been to in the country over the past year.”
Dr Pip Smithson, who with Dr Keira Goss, is one of the two GPs based at the surgery said: “Our extremely dedicated and hardworking team appreciated Prof Field finding the time to visit the Clock Tower and commend them on their efforts.
“Unfortunately, the problem of homelessness is growing, locally and nationally, and that makes it’s more important than ever that we work with housing and social care agencies to provide the best-possible service.
“Our service users often have a number of issues which are difficult, if not impossible, to resolve in isolation,” explained Dr Smithson. “Co-locating within the CoLab enables us to work effectively with other agencies, including the homeless outreach team, mental health and probation services, which, like us, are dedicated to addressing the needs of some of the city’s most socially excluded individuals. This increases the likelihood of our being able to affect those individuals’ lives positively.”
Dr Smithson’s sentiments were echoed by practice manager Rachael Hallam who said: “It was a privilege to meet Prof Field and hear him praise the work we do at the surgery.
“I’m extremely proud of our small and dedicated team, who strive to deliver the very best care to our patients, working in a joined-up format with the other agencies within the CoLab to ensure that they are not only supported with their health concerns but also with, for instance, finding a home and securing employment.”