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Hunt praises ‘courageous’ Professor Field after GPC calls for resignation

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has leapt to defend the ‘courage and expertise’ of CQC chief inspector of primary care Professor Steve Field, after the BMA passed a motion calling for his resignation.

Yesterday the GPC issued a statement saying the committee ‘has no confidence in the CQC’s current chief inspector of general practice’, and ’demands his resignation forthwith’.

This followed an interview Professor Field gave to the Daily Mail in which he said he was ’ashamed of GPs’ providing poor care and claimed GPs ‘have failed as a profession.

Following the calls for his resignation and a separate demand from the RCGP calling for an apology, the health secretary stepped in arguing that his ‘credibility was beyond question’.

The CQC inspection regime has rated 85% of GP practices ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

However, in his comments to the Mail, Professor Field highlighted that 29% of practices had received a rating of ‘inadequate’ or ‘needs improvement’ in the safety domain of the inspection.

Professor Field said: ‘Sometimes we go into a surgery and it’s so bad we go to court the following day to close it down. As a practising GP, I’m quite ashamed that some of my colleagues are providing such poor care.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt – who referred to Professor Field as a ‘former GP’ – said: ’Professor Field is a courageous and expert voice for patients – calling for improvements in general practice where necessary, but also recognising the excellent care taking place across the country.

‘A former GP and president of the royal college, his credibility is beyond question, and we absolutely back his independent judgements as chief inspector.’

CQC chief executive David Behan accused the CQC’s critics of failing to support the profession and patients by ignoring problems.

He said: ‘The work we do in both celebrating good practice and exposing poor practice is vital and we would expect everyone involved in the delivery and health and social care to support this work.

‘There can be no improvement without genuine transparency. Sometimes this will involve telling uncomfortable truths. Refusing to acknowledge problems and blaming those who expose concerns neither supports the profession or protects patients. I make no apology that CQC acts in the interest of people who use services.’