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More female leaders at outstanding practices, suggests Field

GP practices led by women may be providing better care to patients, the chief inspector of general practice has suggested.

Professor Steve Field said he did not have figures but that it was his ‘hunch’ that more of the practices that were rated at the CQC’s top standard post-inspection were led by ‘good women clinical leaders’.

Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care’s Best Practice conference in Birmingham, Professor Field said the CQC was more focused on highlighting good practice than poor standards, listing a range of common denominators amid the ’70-plus’ outstanding practices inspectors have identified to date.

He said these included good leadership, a healthy learning culture, working with professionals in other practices and providing ’safe, effective and high-quality care’.

He added: ‘We haven’t got figures, but my hunch is that more of these practices that are outstanding have very good women leaders. Women clinical leaders, who provide something different.’

He highlighted ’a particular practice in Leicester run by two very, very caring, dynamic women that are really connected into the community’, which he said was ‘the best practice I’ve ever been into’ and almost ‘had him in tears’ giving feedback at the end of inspection.

The practice’s strengths included working closely within the homeless community and listening to patients, he said.

He added that practices that do really well have good communication with patients and the public, mentioning that even though it is now in the GP contract, ’some practices still don’t have patient participation groups’.

By contrast, the outstanding practices were closely entrenched in the community, ‘going that extra mile’, including in the evenings and at weekends.

However, he added: ‘Unfortunately we are seeing worse inadequate care than I had imagined.’

He said this included practices not monitoring their vaccine fridge temperature or giving immunisations without access to adrenaline in case of an adverse reaction.

It comes as Professor Field told Pulse in an exclusive interview this month that he wishes to relieve GPs of the experience that CQC inspection is a burden.

However, the CQC has come under intense criticism from the RCGP and GPC for for highlighting poor standards and for saddling practices with too much bureaucracy, while yesterday CQC chief executive David Behan admitted the CQC itself is ‘not an outstanding organisation’.

 Read Pulse’s Big Interview with Professor Steve Field here