A GP practice which has been branded as the worst in the country by patients has been placed in special measures following a damning report.

Church Lane Surgery, in Braintree, was labelled as 'inadequate' across the board by inspectors who found huge range of problems during a visit in August according to a CQC report published on Monday.

It was found that safety systems are not good enough to make sure patients and staff are kept from harm and systems to make sure medicines were stored safely were not always effective.

There were also not enough staff and inspectors found a backlog of correspondence, pathology results and patient notes as a result.

It comes just weeks after fed-up patients set-up Action to Change Church Lane, a group demanding improvements at the Virgin Care-run surgery.

The CQC report states: "Services placed in special measures will be inspected again within six months.

"If insufficient improvements have been made such that there remains a rating of inadequate for any population group, key question or overall, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service.

"This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration within six months if they do not improve."

James Cleverly, Braintree MP, said in a post online: "This is both disappointing and distressing.

"I speak with the management team at Church Lane regularly and recently had a very frank meeting with the Chief Executive of Virgin Care.

"The difficulties with this practice predate the current leadership and Virgin Care have made it clear that they are committed to improving the rating of the practice.

"I don’t think that yet another change in contract holder would be beneficial to the surgery after years without continuity of senior leadership.

"While problems with the telephone system and prescriptions are frustrating, the problem that constituents raise with me most is the lack of permanent GPs.

"Virgin tell me that they have recently recruited a practice manager and are seeking to recruit permanent GPs too.

"The poor CQC rating makes this process harder.

"I will continue to liaise with the management team at the surgery and at Virgin Care to ensure that the service and rating improve."

Virgin Care says it will not walk away from the surgery and says it has made efforts to improve by recruiting more permanent GPs and improving the telephone system.

Christian Ellwood, practice manager, said: "The report’s rating is disappointing to our team who have worked so hard to improve the service.

"We have a comprehensive action plan in place and we welcome the CQC’s report which confirms that we are focused on the right areas to improve the services we deliver to our patients.

"We will work with the CQC as we strive towards a ‘good’ or, in time, ‘outstanding’ rating for Church Lane Surgery."