CQC results strengthen case for GP investment, says Professor Steve Field

GPs will benefit from the CQC's intensive inspection regime because it provides a platform for the profession to demand greater investment, according to the chief inspector of general practice.

Professor Steve Field (Photo: Solent News)
Professor Steve Field (Photo: Solent News)

CQC chief inspector Professor Steve Field said GPs will now be in a stronger position to push for further investment, because CQC data shows the vast majority of patients receive ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ care from their GP practice.

Professor Field spoke to GPonline as the CQC released a report assessing data on inspections from all practices in England, a document hailed by the watchdog as the most comprehensive analysis to date of the quality and safety of general practice in England.

General practice was to be commended for its high performance, the chief inspector said, particular considering the growing challenges the profession currently faces.

General practice quality

In total, 7,365 practices were inspected and rated, offering an ‘unprecedented detailed view of the quality of all GP practices’, according to the CQC.

But with such high results from GP practices, was the scheme worth the time and money?

‘I really think it was,’ Professor Field told GPonline. ‘There was never a baseline about the quality of care in general practice across the country.

‘We have demonstrated that 80% of those that were "requires improvement" are now good, so even practices that were not really poor have improved.

‘Inadequate practices have also improved. And if they haven’t, they have stopped providing care or they have merged with other practices. We have done a good job shining light on poor practice to encourage improvement.’

GP funding

Professor Field added that funding from the GP Forward View must be ‘targeted appropriately to ensure that struggling practices are able to sustain improvements’.

He said: ‘It was really important at the start that we gained an understanding by showing how good general practice is as well – then I think GPs have a stronger case to push for further investment.

‘We have supported the Forward View and I think now we’re in a stronger position to say invest in general practice and patients will get a good deal – it’s very well worth the exercise.

‘We’re really pleased NHS England is committed to funding and supporting practices – we were part of the discussions for investment in general practice. I personally, as ex-chair of the RCGP, have been promoting general practice my entire career.

‘We have demonstrated how good the vast majority is, and this is a strong point to make because I do believe it is the jewel in the NHS crown. This is a good news story.

‘Most care is provided out of hospitals – clearly, what we've got to do in England is invest in primary care, and get people treated out of hospitals. And if they do go to hospital, we need to get them out as soon as possible and into community care.’

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