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Independents' Day

CQC has cleared the path for Government to invest in GP practices, says Steve Field

The CQC has proved to the Government that GP practices are ‘good’ enough to receive investment, the outgoing chief inspector of general practice has said.

Professor Steve Field, who is due to leave his position at CQC in March next year after five and a half years in the role, said former health secretary Jeremy Hunt asked him in 2013 to ‘shine a spotlight’ on the worst GP practices, and ensure they closed or improved, so the Government could go ahead and invest in ‘good’ general practice.

With the first round of practice inspections now complete, and with 96% of GP practices currently rated good or outstanding, Professor Field said the CQC had fulfilled that goal.

He told delegates at the Best Practice conference: ‘We have actually been able to prove what we said at the start, which is that English general practice is in a very good state.'

He added: 'When I took this job the discussions I had with the then-secretary of state included, could we - as an independent regulator - make sure we improved the quality of care for our patients in England by shining a spotlight on the worst practices, and either making them improve, supporting them to improve, or not to continue practising if they couldn't?

‘How could we encourage improvement of the majority, and could we demonstrate that general practice is as good as I said it was when I chaired the [RCGP], so that we could invest in primary care and in general practice.

‘And together with you, we've done that.’

He further claimed the CQC’s general practice inspection programme has ensured ‘millions’ of patients now receive better care.

The CQC’s annual State of Care report, published earlier this month, found that the overall safety of GP practices in England is improving, with 93% of practices now rated ‘good’ in the safety category.

And Professor Field said: ‘When we started on this journey we had 5% [of practices] which were inadequate. We now only have 1% that are inadequate. Therefore there are millions of patients in this country receiving better care than when we started.’

He added that 'a lot of' people were 'opposing' the inspections to start, 'but actually we have proven to patients that general practice is good'.

Since then, he said, general practice has undergone a lot of change including many practices merging to work at scale.

'We have a different set up now, which is worth investing in.'

But his comments come after an official evaluation of the CQC's inspection process, published last month, concluded that it requires improvement. The review found that GP practices were among those least likely to improve as a result of the regulator's current approach.

Professor Field, who took on the role as chief inspector of general practice in October 2013, has led on the inspection of all providers of primary care services, including out-of-hours, online providers and prison health care.

Readers' comments (21)

  • Dear All,
    We went from needs improvement to good via an "e-mail inspection" after we sent them 20 pages of guff. Did our patients notice any difference?
    Perhaps if Mr Hunt had invested the hundreds of milions that have gone into CQC directly into those worrisome practices in the first place then he'd have been able to cut out the middleman and get results earlier.
    Paul C

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  • So the government hasn't been investing in general practice because of the 5% of inadequate practices? Self regarding nonsense.

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  • Says the guy that is ashamed to be a GP. Most practices go for high standards and safety. We are in the job of being professional and caring. They achieve this despite the CQC putting stumbling blocks in place. If the money that is invested in the CQC goes into practices it will be better.

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  • Delusional rubbish, the current generation of 'top gps'have left primary care in a much worse place than when they arrived.Shirinking and destabilised, we are all working towards a 5 year plan when most of will be out of the mess.There has never been a worse time to be a GP and you my fiend are one or the route causes.

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  • Is it true that the CQC budget is £134,000,000 a year?
    If not true, can someone tell us the actual figure with a breakdown of individual salaries (+pension right)?
    If it is true, is this value for money? In other words, does CQC meet the pay v productivity criteria by improving 4 percentage points?

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  • What a nice man

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  • And how many hospitals are good or outstanding? What upper rubbish. You haven't invested in general practice as you didn't want to. Dont patronise us with this rubish

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  • OBE on the way for this "top GP"

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  • What a waste of space to state the obvious, something which was obvious for years and he believes that he has saved general practice. It is apparatchiks like him that caused me to leave. Who does the master of spin think he is fooling.

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Going going Gong. What a Muppet. If I was SoS now I'd be crowing that most of general practice is good or outstanding proving, and let me be clear, we don't need to waste the hardworking taxpayer's money on more investment as the GPs are doing a great job and are well remunerated. Primary care is strong and stable. --The man is delusional.--

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