Members of the RCGP Midland faculty debated a motion calling for CQC chief inspector of general practice Professor Field to be 'removed' from its board on Thursday, claiming that his role at the watchdog presented ‘a conflict of interest with the RCGP’.
The motion was ultimately not carried, with 11 board members voting against, six in favour and one abstaining in a secret ballot. Professor Field was not present at the meeting.
Dr John Cosgrove, a member of the Midland faculty, argued that a person so closely aligned to the CQC could 'not reliably represent the views of the majority of members of the RCGP at faculty or national level'.
Without explicitly naming Professor Field – who is a former chairman of the RCGP – he added that allowing such an individual to vote on or be involved in board discussions presented an ‘unwarranted obstacle’ to the board representing the views of members.
Professor Field was at the centre of controversy in December after he told the Daily Mail newspaper that he was ‘ashamed’ of the GP profession because of 'inadequate' practices uncovered by the CQC, an opinion he had voiced earlier in the year at the RCGP conference.
His statements prompted RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker to demand an apology, while the BMA called for him to resign his CQC position.
The RCGP board motion’s wording proposed that ‘any board member who publicly presents a position that is perceived… as being antagonistic and inflammatory… should be removed from the board’.
Another part of the motion suggested that ‘senior employees of organisations whose main purpose is inspection and regulation to which a significant number of members are subject should be excluded from discussions and votes of the board’.
CQC chief inspector
Dr Cosgrove said board members had unanimously disapproved of Professor Field’s comments, the CQC’s approach to inspection and publication of intelligent monitoring.
But arguments against passing the motion included concerns that it could amount to censorship and the unintended consequences of making the motion policy.
There were also suggestions that if Professor Field had breached the RCGP members’ code of conduct, then that should be a matter for the RCGP honorary secretary, and not the faculty.
The Midlands RCGP faculty is one of 32 around the country which are intended to help support support members at a local level. The board members work to help push the college's vision, purpose and priority goals.