A GP surgery has been told it must make significant improvements or face closure following a damming inspection from a healthcare regulator.

Steeple Bumpstead Surgery received an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ from the Care Quality Commission after three visits found it to be unsafe, poorly managed and below average when dealing with cancer, diabetes and mental health patients.

The practise has now been placed in special measures and if sufficient changes have not been made when it is inspected again in six months, the regulator can exercise its right to shut the surgery down.

Peter Wightman, director of primary care at NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said the healthcare provider was working with the surgery to make improvements.

He said: “We note the concerns identified regarding the service. We have discussed the report with the practice provider and it is clear the difficulty they face recruiting and retaining staff is the key issue underlying the findings of the CQC.

“We are working with the practice to prepare an action plan.”

In relation to the care and treatment provided by the surgery the report, carried out by Dr Rosie Benneyworth, takes a more positive view and says patients do have trust and confidence in the clinical staff.

But the rapid decline in rating suggested in the report still comes as a surprise after a similar routine inspection in 2017 awarded the medical centre with an overall rating of ‘good’ and praised its clear vision and strategy to deliver high quality care.

Halstead councillor Jo Beavis said: “Clearly this report is disappointing to read and the decline in rating is of great concern. I believe what is needed is clarity from the NHS and Braintree Council.

“The north of the Braintree district is rural with pockets of social isolation, fuel poverty and a lack of accessible services and we need our questions answered.

“I would urge the NHS and the district council to call a meeting of local representatives to update this part of the district on a plan for health.”

We contacted the surgery directly for comment.