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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs have nothing to be ashamed of

Dr Rebecca Jones responds to Professor Steve Field

’General practice has failed as a profession’ – this was a headline in the Daily Mail this weekend. And again in Pulse on Monday. In the current climate of denigration of the medical profession and of GPs in particular, this didn’t really come as any big surprise. Just another journalist or politician continuing in their quest to devalue and demoralise medical professionals. But I was surprised when I read whose words these were, and I soon understood the uproar that ensued in the online GP forums.

I am ashamed of the inspection process

Sadly these were the words of Professor Steve Field, the NHS’s Chief Inspector of general practice, and yes, a practicing GP himself. Not only does Professor Field believe that we have failed as a profession, but was quoted as being ‘ashamed’. In his interview he was referring to CQC failures, a bone of contention not only for him, but also for every GP in the country. The furore around CQC is quickly spiralling, not only from the seemingly cruel methods of inspection and stringent standards, and the ways that failing practices are dealt with, but also because of the looming hike in fees of 600%.

Professor Field may be ashamed of his fellow GPs, but I am sure I am not speaking only for myself when I say that I am ashamed of the inspection process and ways that ‘failing practices’ are dealt with. I am ashamed that a high-profile GP could take part in the witch hunt against his colleagues, especially a GP who has stood as chairman of our Royal College. Jeremy Hunt, who has championed Professor Field in his role as Chief Inspector has recently tweeted about how ‘no-blame, open culture is so crucial’ and that he was ‘working with Bruce Keogh 2 create supportive culture 4 docs’. However this seems to be in contradiction to the methods currently being used to regulate provisions of care, where fear plays a big part. As the trainee and newly-qualified GP representative for GP Survival, I know how anxious and uncertain comments like this make those about to become GPs. This is an example of one of the reasons why we see so many doctors leaving general practice so soon after qualifying - they are made to feel entirely worthless.

During the interview, Professor Field mentioned a few points that demonstrated the failure of general practice, including:

- Patients having to queue for 4 hours to get an appointment

- Secretaries having to sort through results and letters, choosing what is important for the doctor to see

- Surgeries being ‘abandoned’ because of lack of locums to cover when a partner needs to take leave

I don’t think it takes a genius to put this picture together and see an under-resourced, struggling system rather than a bunch of failing GPs who should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of pointing the finger of blame and further demoralising a dwindling workforce, why doesn’t Professor Field have a chat with his pal, Jeremy, imploring him to inject the necessary resources in order for practices to stop failing their arbitrary standards? The powers that be need to support our ‘failing’ practices, finding where the problems lie and encouraging growth and change. Closure of practices that are deemed inadequate will merely put pressure on surrounding practices who are, in all likelihood, already struggling.

CQC is the problem. The whole process of inspections and ratings is shameful, not the hard working GP struggling to jump through hoops whilst keeping up a decent standard of care. Also shameful is the way that practices are named and shamed, causing distress not only to all the staff under that roof, but also to the patients who trust those looking after them. Until current inspection processes are scrapped and an alternative, which is fit for purpose, is put it in its place, general practice will continue to struggle to progress and move on from this all-time low.

Dr Rebecca Jones is a GP in Hastings and Trainee/NQGP Representative for GP Survival

 

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Readers' comments (12)

  • Vinci Ho

    As I said before , he could not say he was ashamed of being the chief of CQC as its reputation was already well condemned by ministers and Chairwaoman of Publuc Account Committee this week ( CQC was criticised as a non- effective organisation ). So to save the reputation of CQC , he is willing to sacrifice his comrades , us , instead. Now what do you call this , ladies and gentlemen ?

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  • Shame on you Dr Field,SHAME ON YOU!

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  • Couldn't have put this any better myself. There has to be a long term solution for GP. instead we see him (Field) almost proud of the fact that he sought legal advice to close one practice that failed an inspection during the health select committee meeting yesterday. No wonder practices have worries before their inspections. As if we didn't have enough to worry about with our workload, we have the threat of increased penalties and closure if we don't meet certain standards. Power to Margaret Baker who very clearly stated that GP was under immense pressure from being overworked and underfunded and that it is (doctor fatigue) this that is the main threat to patient safety, not whether they have competed an audit of the tap water temperature. Royal college shoeing some backbone gets my support every day!

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  • Any bets against him being knighted?

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  • The most worrying point for us all was during the division bell when the three were left alone for 15 minutes, poor Maureen looked very uncomfortable as the other two, Chaand Nagpaul and Steve Field conducted a love in between themselves, smiling, joking and obviously immensely in love with each other, sickening really!

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  • How wonderful it is that now even our leaders are condemning us. Final nail in the coffin, methinks.

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  • Totally agree with article
    I am not only ashamed of field but actually repelled and disgusted
    He has less than one shred of credibility with the honourable profession with the pathetic wasteful stupid bullying organisation he heads
    GPC needs to call for him to be sacked
    Seriously the profession shoul have no more dealings with this self satisfied social climber
    Still if he does not resign we of the gp body will never forget what we think of him and his truly execrable quango

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  • Perhaps he nedds to reported to the GMC for unprofessional conduct, bringing General Practice into disrepute and gross moral turpitude.
    Perhaps the stress of a GMC investigation would concentrate his mind.
    As he is actually n active danger to General Practice he should be suspended whilst investigations are ongoing.

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  • Field is ashamed of G P s who try to provide a caring personal patient centred model in spite of poor investment.
    He prefers his own super practice model which is based on the expensive failed hospital model.
    Come on RCGP, research what patients need from an effective practice and the resources required for this.
    Help fight this management centred care provisions.
    Show how wrong Field is.

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  • Surely the 'Essential Person specification' for
    NHS’s Chief Inspector of General Practice is Critical Analysis.Perhaps his bosses may care to reflect if the present incumbent is telling them what they want to hear,does have any critically analytical faculties or has become great at answering the questions/ticking the boxes he has been told to?
    Here is to the uniting of the Medical Profession.

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