The first wave of GP surgery ratings, following the introduction of inspections in October this year, has revealed poor levels of care among 1,200 GP practices across England.

The new rating system, which uses surveys, official statistics and patient experience to determine an assessment, is designed to deliver transparent and clear results to the public. The new system places surgeries in one of six bands, with band one indicating the most concern and band six representing the lowest level of concern.

In the first assessment of more than 7,000 surgeries in England 1,200 were placed in rankings which indicated care fell below the expected standard. Around one in 10 surgeries was placed in the highest risk category and will now be inspected in more detail in early 2015.

Concerns have been raised in Braintree, where it is believed more than 40,000 patients may be receiving poor care, after three of the town’s practices received ratings which may put their patients at ‘risk’ or ‘elevated risk’.

Gwen Kirby-Dent, a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Chelmsford office, said: “The new CQC rating system has identified a significant number of GP practices that are potentially putting their patients at risk.

“It is vital that members of the public are aware of the quality of care being delivered in their local area, but there is no doubt that the CQC reports will make the public, especially in areas such as Braintree, anxious about the care they are receiving.

“To ensure patient confidence, GP surgeries that receive poor ratings need to accept that improvements may be needed, but, more importantly, the government needs to support individual surgeries that are struggling not leave them to sink further. Naming is one thing so that patients are informed but no one gains from then leaving them to spin. Failing schools get help and so should failing GP practices.”