GP leaders are calling for the resignation of the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of general practice Steve Field for making “unjustified comments” that have undermined the role of the profession.
The British Medical Association’s GPs committee has handed down a vote of no confidence in Professor Field, after he told UK paper the Daily Mail that GPs have “failed as a profession”, following a litany of errors and bad practice recorded from the 2,100 surgeries rated so far under the CQC’s Ofsted-style inspection regime.
Eleven percent of surgeries scored ‘requires improvement’ overall, four percent were classed as ‘inadequate’ and 12 were in such a state that they closed within 24 hours of being rated, Prof Field told the paper.
If the pattern continues as expected, 300 practices, covering around 2.5 million patients, will be found ‘inadequate’ by the end of the inspection. “As a practising GP, I’m quite ashamed that some of my colleagues are providing such poor care,” he said, despite the large majority - 81% - having been deemed ‘good’ overall.
GPC chair Chaand Nagpaul said the vote reflects the anger felt by GPs over Professor Field’s comments, and stressed that many feel the CQC’s inspection regime is not ‘fit for purpose’.
“This motion demonstrates the dismay and anger felt by dedicated, hard-working GPs across England following the recent unjustified comments made by the chief inspector of general practice at the CQC,” he said. “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.”
The Royal College of GPs has also slammed Prof Field’s “baffling, unfounded and scaremongering” comments, and called for an apology to the nation’s family doctors for “making a number of unfounded media sound bites that have unfairly attacked the integrity of hard-working family doctors and ‘inevitably’ frightened patients”.
Its chair Maureen Baker said his stance has “led to unfounded concern among patients about the quality of care they receive, undermined the authority of his role, and damaged the concept of regulation among family doctors,” as well as shattering the morale of GPs “already at a low ebb after more than a decade of chronic underfunding”.
“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”.
“It is clear the CQC inspection regime is not fit for purpose,” said Dr Nagpaul. The current process “is disproportionate, expensive and bureaucratic, and takes GPs and their staff away from spending time looking after their patients,” and urgently need “wholesale reform”.