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“Significant improvements” at Sutherland Lodge

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recognised “significant improvements made to the quality of care” provided by Virgin Care-run Sutherland Lodge Surgery in Chelmsford, and has taken it out of special measures.

In fact following the latest inspection it has rated the service as ‘good’ for the two measures of ‘caring’ and ‘responsive to people’s needs’.Less than a year after the CQC rated the service as ‘inadequate’ overall inspectors have upgraded the overall rating to ‘requires improvement’.

The practice was taken on by Virgin Care following the resignation of the partners who used to run it. Many of the staff who previously worked at and ran the practice left at the time.

In fact the CQC said they “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.”

Chris Pearson, Virgin Care’s Head of Primary Care, said,“We are very pleased 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 are committed to continuing to improve the practice to deliver high quality care for local people. We are determined to gain at least a ‘good’ rating for Sutherland Lodge or even, in time, ‘outstanding’.”

Cathy Trevaldwyn, Chair of the Patient Participation Group, said,“The surgery is on a recovery journey and the marked progress over the last few months has only been brought about by the dedication of hard-working staff. Looking forward, I believe the surgery will soon be able to match the care of other surgeries in Chelmsford. It is pleasing to note that Virgin Care and the PPG are working well together to improve the patient experience.”

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.


Notes for editors

‘Positivity packs’ 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.

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