A GP surgery has defended itself after it was criticised for not vaccinating enough children.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Neasden Medical Centre as ‘requires improvement’, claiming it was underperforming on key targets.

These included World Health Organisation childhood immunisation targets and national cervical cancer screening targets.

But the practice has since said that low immunisation uptake is “prevalent” in the area due to various factors, including “cultural and religious barriers”.

It said that while it shares the CQC’s concerns on low uptake of childhood vaccines nationally, “people have the right to make their own choices and decisions”.

The practice claimed that not reaching a target should not be equated to inadequate performance, stating that the “unjust” rating would be subject to a challenge.

Other issues raised by the CQC related to patients' opinions about "access" at the surgery.

The practice’s results in the most recent GP Patient survey showed that just 56% of patients were satisfied with the appointments they were offered, well below the national average.

But inspectors acknowledged that the practice had adjusted its appointment system in response to patient feedback.

The practice in Tanfield Avenue was rated ‘requires improvement’ for its effectiveness and responsiveness to people’s needs. It was rated ‘good’ for how safe, caring and well-led it was.

Inspectors said: “The practice provided care in a way that kept patients safe and protected them from avoidable harm. Patients received effective care and treatment that met their needs.”

They added: “Staff were able to provide examples of how they treated patients with kindness and respect. The practice had improved its scores in relation to patient experience.

“Patients could access care and treatment in a timely way, prioritising patients with more urgent needs.”

A spokesperson for Neasden Medical Centre said: “This clear positive feedback from the CQC vividly shows there were no concerns about clinical care provided by the practice, and as a result deserves [a] ‘good’ rating. 

They added: “Unfortunately, lack of trust in the NHS impacts on patients’ decision making and continues to drive them away from accessing care and implying that the low uptake in immunisation and screening reflects on performance of the practice is unreasonable. 

“Our rating does not reflect the effort made by our dedicated and competent staff.

“Not reaching a target does not equate to inadequate performance and this unjust rating would be subject to a challenge.

“When people, who have not engaged due to lack of trust in the NHS, hear that their local care giver ‘requires improvement’, what chance is there to gain their trust?”