The RCGP has demanded that CQC chief inspector Professor Steve Field apologise to England’s GPs, after accusing him of repeatedly and unfairly attacking GPs in the national media.
College chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said his ‘baffling and unfounded’ comments had inevitably frightened patients, undermined the authority of his role and damaged the concept of regulation among family doctors.
Professor Field – a former RCGP chairman himself – last week said to national media that poor care by a minority of practices showed GPs ‘had failed as a profession’ – reiterating comments in October at the RCGP conference.
Dr Baker said: ‘GPs are supportive in general of regulation, however the way Steve has gone about making misleading, unfounded and denigrating comments about the level of care that hard-working GPs provide to their patients is rapidly undermining the concept of regulation.
‘He repeatedly makes sensationalist and non-evidenced claims about how bad the level of patient care is – which must inevitably scare patients.
‘As the chief inspector of general practice, Steve needs to be seen as being fair and impartial, but given the scaremongering comments he has made this is no longer the case. To be quite frank, he has now clearly lost the confidence of the profession.
‘For someone in such a position of authority to disparage unfairly the work of our hard-working family doctors is inexcusable.
‘It is difficult [to see] how Steve can turn his reputation around with the nation’s GPs, but he could make a start by issuing an immediate apology.
'As an organisation, we support the principle of the CQC having a regulatory role to ensure that practices do not fall below an acceptable standard of patient care. But we need the inspection regime to be headed up by a Chief Inspector who is seen as fair and impartial, and has the confidence of family doctors.'
Most GPs 'good'
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. The RCGP criticised these comments, which were made despite 85% of practices being ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
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.'