BMA demands resignation of CQC chief inspector Steve Field

The BMA's GP leaders have backed a no confidence vote in CQC chief inspector Professor Steve Field and demanded his resignation.

Professor Steve Field
Professor Steve Field

The vote by the GPC comes just hours after RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker warned that the profession had lost confidence in the CQC chief inspector, and called on him to apologise for 'baffling and unfounded' claims about general practice.

GPs have spoken out strongly against Professor Field after he said last week to national media that poor care by a minority of practices showed GPs ‘had failed as a profession’ – reiterating comments he made in October at the RCGP conference.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'This motion demonstrates the dismay and anger felt by dedicated hardworking GPs across England following the recent unjustified comments made by the chief inspector of general practice at the CQC. When the vast majority of practices are managing to maintain high quality care against all odds in the face of falling resources, staff shortages and rising patient demand, the chief inspector should be vocally supporting GP services and not undermining them.

Map: GP CQC ratings

'It is clear that the CQC inspection regime is not fit for purpose. The current process is disproportionate, expensive and bureaucratic, and takes GPs and their staff away from spending time looking after their patients. It includes endless amounts of pointless paperwork, such as box ticking exercises aimed at scrutinising the details of internal practice meetings. The CQC has already had to perform a U-turn this year over its widely discredited risk banding programme which formed judgments before inspectors had even arrived at a practice.

'If a GP practice is found to be struggling, immediate action needs to be taken to ensure that it is supported to improve the quality of care that practice delivers. It does not need to be attacked, especially as in many cases problems that do occur are due to resource or infrastructure constraints.

'The CQC inspection process needs wholesale reform urgently in order to restore the confidence of the profession and stop GPs wasting their time on pointless processes and paperwork when they should be treating patients.'

GPonline's map of CQC ratings across England reveals how practices are faring in each CCG, but nationally around 85% of practices have been rated 'good' or 'outstanding' by the watchdog - a far higher proportion than any other type of NHS provider.

Inadequate GP practices

Professor Field told the House of Commons health select committee earlier this week that he was ‘shocked and ashamed’ at the quality of care provided by ‘inadequate’ practices.

But a CQC spokesman said Professor Field had repeatedly reiterated that the majority of GP practices are ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Professor Field also said at the health select committee meeting: ‘I think general practice is the best job in the world. It is an amazing role where patient satisfaction is very high, the public esteem is high and you can get involved in education, research or medical politics.

'I think it is a good picture that 85% of practices are good or outstanding. The vast bulk of practices are providing safe, effective care.'

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