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Most GPs don’t know what bad practice can be like for patients, says Professor Steve Field

Most GPs do not understand what really bad practice can be like for patients, CQC chief inspector of general practice Steve Field has claimed

In an interview with the Independent, Professor Field said that ‘most GPs probably’ aren’t aware of the damning effect poor service can have on patients.

Professor Field also said that the most common problems the CQC has discovered during the pilots of the new inspection regime is practices having out-of-date emergency medication.

The interview came after Professor Field’s recent announcemnet that GP practices that are judged ‘inadequate’ in a number of areas by the new CQC inspections will be placed in ‘special measures’ and given six months to turn things around before having their registration removed.

Following criticism of the CQC’s focus on poor performance, Professor Field defended the regulator’s actions.

He told the Independent: ‘Most GPs probably don’t really know what really bad practice can be like for patients.

‘And if we have got very poor practice – even in small numbers that is not good for the profession as a whole.’

But the chair of the GPC’s contracts and regulation subcommittee, Dr Robert Morley, said Professor Field’s comments were a ‘damning generalisation.’

He added: ‘While the headlines say “doctors”, his own quoted words actually say “GPs”. I’d be interested to know whether the chief inspector has any evidence to back up what he says, which I’m afraid has inevitably gone down very badly with the profession.

‘While I appreciate he’s trying to make the point that it’s only a small minority of GPs responsible for “bad practice”, the reality is that all GPs see its effects, for example having to deal with the fallout of things going wrong in hospitals.’

Professor Field also provided information about the first rounds of the pilot inspections.

He said: ‘The biggest problems we’re finding is medicines management. We’re finding a lot of practices that have out of date drugs including emergency medications. Not having drugs is also a problem. If you take your child in for a vaccination you want to know it is being stored properly and know that you’re having the right vaccine.

‘But if your child collapses because they are allergic to something in the vaccine you’d like to know that the surgery has got adrenaline to resuscitate you quickly and not wait for an ambulance.

‘A lot of people had a go at me personally because they thought I was having a go at GPs – but actually if your vaccines are out of the temperature range they might not work. If that’s the case you’re affecting hundreds of children and many adults.’

As part of the previously flagged proposals, the CQC has said that where ‘aspects of service’ are deemed inadequate, practices will have six months to make improvements before being placed in special measures.

The special measures will allow the CQC and NHS England to oversee the practice and set out clear expectations for improvement. If there are no sufficient improvements within a further six months, the practice will have its registration removed, the regulator has said.