NORTH East Essex’s health boss says a health provider was stripped of running a surgery in Frinton because there had not been enough improvement to “justify” continuing the contract.

Last week the Gazette revealed NHS bosses had terminated Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE)’s contract for the Caradoc Surgery after patients raised serious concerns over accessing the service.

The health provider was also been given one month to improve the management of three other surgeries - Epping Close Surgery, in Clacton, Frinton Road Medical Centre, in Holland-on-Sea, and Green Elms Surgery, in Jaywick.

Patients had been left angry after struggling to book appointments, order prescriptions and get test results after ACE introduced the new Care Navigation telephone system last year.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive for North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said new leadership was needed for the Caradoc Surgery after concerns over ACE’s provision of primary care services.

He said: “I have listened to patients of the Caradoc Surgery, met with the Tendring Health Forum and spoken with our patients at our recent Patient Summit.

“A continual theme in all of those conversations was their serious concern around access to the service at the Caradoc Surgery. These concerns have also been raised by the public at our board meetings.

“Our safety and clinical quality team at the CCG has been working closely with the team at ACE. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen enough of an improvement to justify continuing the contract.

“We have therefore made the decision to bring in new leadership.”

Dr Garratt said that to ensure all patients at Caradoc Surgery are provided with access to a GP service, the CCG has agreed a 12-month caretaker contract with Dr Farrukh Shamshad, from the Ranworth Surgery in Clacton, starting in early September.

“The Ranworth Surgery is rated as ‘good’ by the CQC, and regularly gets excellent feedback from its patients,” he said.

“This is a positive move for the Caradoc Surgery patients, and I have every confidence in Dr Shamshad and his staff.

“We will be working with ACE and Ranworth to ensure there is a smooth transition to the new arrangements.”

He added that the CCG will be running a full procurement exercise to provide a permanent solution.

ACE said the provider “wholly rejected” concerns raised over patient safety at Caradoc and said it found the CCG’s decision “regretful”.

“ACE has undoubtedly encountered challenges in developing our new Care Navigation operating model across our four GP practices,” it added.

“However, we have seen significant and measurable improvements in quality and outcomes in the last 18 months, all of which the CCG has witnessed and endorsed.”

It added that it would focus its efforts on supporting ACE’s staff attached to Caradoc to transfer safely and effectively to the new temporary contractor.

Patients from ACE surgeries across the district took to the Gazette’s Facebook page to welcomed the action.

Laura White said: “Thank god for that - my surgery is a joke! I don’t blame the staff, I blame the system. Every time I go, I have had nothing, but cock-ups and problems. It’s got to the point where I don’t bother now.”

Jackie Cross added: “I had been with Epping Close for over 30 years, ACE took over and what was a good service descended into chaos all round.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling added: “I am pleased the CCG has finally taken this decision. ACE has had long enough to get their house in order. I appreciate that for residents this will feel like it has all taken too long. I believe now we stand a good chance of getting the GP service that this area has sought for so long.”