Need for CQC shows 'failure of GP profession', says chief inspector Steve Field

Examples of dangerous care from a minority of GPs were allowed to continue for too long before the CQC was established, chief inspector Professor Steve Field told the RCGP conference, and are a product of a 'collective failure' of the GP profession.

Professor Steve Field
Professor Steve Field

In a heated debate with grassroots GPs at the RCGP annual conference on Friday, Professor Field defended the CQC against claims that inspections attacked practices and were a ‘waste of money’.

For too long, GPs, PCTs, CCGs and others have failed to raise concerns about failing practices, which have been allowed to run unchecked for years, he said.

Without the CQC, these practices would have continued to provide subpar and - in some circumstances - dangerous care, he added.

He suggested that many GPs who complain about the CQC are unaware of the extent of the ‘dangerous’ practice conducted by some GPs across the country.

GP CQC ratings

He said: ‘Most GPs haven’t seen really bad practice because they don’t work in those sort of practices – you only hear about them down the road. And many of us, including myself, have not raised what we hear when patients move list to us that have been treated so badly.

‘I think we do have a professional responsibility, and I've failed in my career to stand up to this sometimes. I remember a practice local to us that closed when the GP retired early. When we got his diabetic patients when the list was dispersed the care these patients had not received was shocking.’

He went on to say that CQC inspections found that one practice where the GP was injecting patients with out of date adrenaline and another where a whole year’s worth of blood tests had not been acted on.

One single-handed GP went on holiday for a week and failed to hire any locum or cover for the duration, leaving patients with no access to a doctor.

GP quality

‘So to those of us who think we’re wasting money, I respect your view,’ he said. ‘It is a bit of a waste of money, because actually we could have avoided all this if professionally we had acted together and sorted it out.

‘18 months ago I found a practice that I was desperately worried about. I spoke to the local NHS and they said: "We think there are probably six worse than this".

‘As a profession, it’s very easy to be angry with me. If I wanted to be popular, it’s very easy as chair of council because you can say things like "we need more money" or "CQC is a burden". It’s easy to be popular.

‘It’s very, very difficult to have the moral courage to do something for the people of England and patients to try and improve their care. And this college should be shouting louder about leadership and quality – and not tolerating the poor practice that some our patients in this country unfortunately have to deal with.

‘We need to collectively stand up and say enough is enough. And I'm quite happy taking the brickbats and the issues on money, but frankly we collectively as a profession have failed.’

Photo: Solent News

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