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Three GP practices have been put into “special measures” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Surgeries in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Reading were found to have “significant areas of concern” by inspectors as part of a new regime by the body.

Areas of concern included low numbers of staff, procedures not been followed for the correct storage of medicines and poor record-keeping.

NHS England is working with the practices to help them improve. They have been told that they must do so within the next six months if they are to avoid closure.

The chief inspector of general practice, Prof Steve Field, said: “It is disappointing that we have found any to be inadequate, but it is important that those practices are offered help at the earliest opportunity to improve.

“In each case, we have found significant areas of concern.

A further two practices in Northumberland and Leeds have been advised that they too will be placed in special measures if they don’t improve.

The CQC said its priority was to work with practices to help them improve and that surgeries would only be closed if “absolutely necessary”.

However, the British Medical Association (BMA) criticised the watchdog’s decision to “name and shame” the practices, claiming that it might hinder their efforts to improve.

Deputy Chair of their GP Committee, Dr Richard Vautrey, said: “Such practices often work in very challenging situations and usually need help and support, not condemnation or naming and shaming, which only makes matters worse.

“It also makes it doubly difficult to recruit new GPs to help resolve the problem.”

Fiona Tinsley, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Mercury Legal, said: “It is very concerning that the CQC has found such serious failures within these GP practices to justify placing them into special measures.

“Every day here at Mercury Legal we help people who have suffered as a result of inadequate medical practice and therefore welcome this move by the CQC, who have concluded that these surgeries are not delivering what is rightly expected of them and taken action.

“The top priority for medical staff must always be to provide the highest possible level of care to patients and if this is being compromised, appropriate measures must be taken to correct this.”