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Field: One in ten practices must make major improvements

As many as 10% of GP practices in England need to make major improvements, with those that are found to be unsafe or providing poor access facing possible closure, the new chief inspector of general practice has warned.

In his first full-length interview since taking on the brand-new role at the CQC, Professor Steve Field told the Guardian that he would not shy away from imposing sanctions, including fines or even possible closure notices, on practices which were found to be falling short.

Professor Field estimated that 10% of the practices in England needed to make substantial improvements, and said: ‘While we’ve got some of the best general practice in the world, it’s let down by a small percentage of practices which aren’t providing appropriate access or quality of care.’

He added: ‘I will not hesitate at all to order the closure of GP practices that we find to be unsafe, or providing poor access, or which do not care for patients properly or treat them with dignity.’

The comments from Professor Field, who starts his new role on Tuesday, come just days after the CQC named and shamed its first GP practice, warning a single-hander in Greater Manchester he could face having his services restricted or a notice to cancel his registration if he does not make urgent improvements in a number of areas.

Professor Field also told the Guardian that he believed patients should have access to routine GP appointments seven days a week, although this could be delivered through federations rather than at an individual practice level.

‘Access should be brilliant, but currently it’s patchy. A lot of patients are dissatisfied with current access and think it’s inadequate. It seems to be a huge source of frustration,’ he said.

‘I think we should move to seven-day services in general practice, where patients should be able to access a GP for advice at the weekend.’

Readers' comments (31)

  • It is not for Steve Field in his current position to express his personal opinions on the topic of 7 day opening. GPs are not resourced or required to open 7 days and even if we had the cash we don't have the workforce.

    Steve must remember that he works for the Care QUALITY Commission and NOT the Care QUANTITY Commission and in his position he cannot have publicly expressed personal opinions in the same way that I as GPC negotiator cannot have them about the trailing 5% of practices!

    Peter Holden
    GPC negotiator- in a personal capacity!!!!!!!

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  • Arise Sir Field or should that be Lord Field.

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  • What about good practises that let down by the abysmal services they refer patients to in good faith - a certain CMHT springs to mind? Can we name and shame them please - happy to provide the names. Even better close it down.

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  • Has he listened to the patients?

    Presumably he and his inspection team is working 7 days a week then?

    Targetting a single handed practice first - it is not hard to see where his political handlers are taking him, I expect Tescbury's (open at weekends!) will get a glowing report soon!

    I expect corporate practices are lording it up, providing great sir-vice!

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  • Prof Field's own practice interestingly doesn't offer any weekend appointments, and extended hours only one night per week. Furthermore, the telephone number is an 0845 number.

    Perhaps he should start with his own practice?

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  • agree. CQC are essentially stepping into the arena as contract managers, which they very surely should NOT be. Extended access requires additional funds and runs the real risk of marginalising continuity and therefore care for the frail and vulnerable groups.

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  • Who would have thought it? - A long term government favourite would advocate the decimation of GP practices!
    Whilst advocating an increasing in their capacity by 40%?
    I wonder who would be in line to pick up this 50% shortfall?

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  • It looks like Steve will be sanctioning his own Practice on both opening hours and use of the 0845 number

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