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GPs go forth

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)

  • I think that the ‘top GP’ is after a knighthood for his sterling work in supporting us grassroots GPs and not a run of the mill OBE. Please note my cynicism!
    As far as investing more in general practice only five words spring to mind: bullsh*t is one and too little too late are the others.

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  • We all believe Steve's own CQC report don't we?
    I am ashamed as a GP to be associated with him, but he is right about one thing: we really ought to have better standards to mitigate against clowns like him.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Are we supposed to thank you Master Yoda?🤨
    ‘Respect’ your elders , folks , please .

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  • Vinci Ho

    According to the Master , David Cameron had the potential to be a good GP , remember that ? We should be so honoured , 😁

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  • I think QQF improved the care patients received much more than CQC ever did. patients couldn't care about CQC ratings they just want to be seen and treated as quickly and safely as possible

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  • now settle down folks.
    we all know you have to suck up to the boss to get a gong.
    he will be after my job soon, anyone need a Practice Manager?

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  • Read through the lines people.

    Essentially he is saying that the government thought that surgeries were badly run and below par, but the cqc proved this hypothesis incorrect.

    Like qof, the cqc should now therefore be retired and general practice should receive more funding via the global sum.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Stupendously arrogant. It’s like he is claiming the CQC is some how reposnsible for the fact that 96% of GP practices were fund to be good or outstanding. They were already. I find it frankly disgusting that someone should suggest general practice hasn’t received funding because a body of people believed it was not worthy and was crap. They set up an expensive inspection organization, discovered general practice wasn’t as crap as they thought and somehow think this has achieved something. All it has apparently achieved, by his own admission, is delaying funding because they were wrong. Patting himself on the back for for finding out general practice isn’t shit after all. A perverse insult.

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  • I was delighted to learn that poorly-regarded man was retiring but of course , some equally self-regarding gong chaser will take his place.

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  • interesting point "steve"

    but who are you actually going to invest in?
    many many of my local colleagues have left early after being brutalised by your organisation and there are no replacements.
    locums will cost 2-3 times the people you destroyed and do less as goodwill has been completely lost.

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