The CQC has announced that former RCGP chair Professor Steve Field is to take up the new post of chief inspector of general practice, with responsibility for introducing a new ratings system for GP practices.
In a statement the CQC said that Professor Field would transfer from NHS England to take up the post announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this year.
Mr Hunt said at the time that a new ‘judgement’ factor would be introduced into CQC inspections so that the regulator is ‘not just measuring the dials’.
The CQC said that Professor Field would be responsible for championing the interests of patients, making judgments about the quality of care provided and ensuring that health and adult social care services join up seamlessly.
He will be responsible for implementing the results of a consultation on how primary care providers should be inspected and regulated – which raised the prospect of the convenience of GP opening hours being included in inspections.
He will also oversee the implementation of a tough new inspection regime and a new ratings system for registered primary care providers – although the regulator said that it had yet to figure out how the ratings would work.
The appointment comes after figures obtained by Pulse showed that more than a fifth of the GP practices inspected so far by the CQC have been found to be non-compliant with essential standards.
Professor Field is the former chair of the NHS Future Forum – set up by the Government to review the Health and Social Care Act – and is currently the NHS Commissioning Board’s deputy medical director.
Professor Field said: ‘I am thrilled at being appointed the first chief inspector of general practice in England. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to highlight what’s good in general practice and dentistry, and to shine a light on what isn’t. It’s an opportunity to make sure that all organisations are encouraged to live up to the standards of the best.
‘I have had a long-standing commitment to address health inequalities and this role will enable me to ensure that primary medical services put this increasingly important issue high on their agendas. It will also allow me to focus on making sure that people receive health and care services that are integrated.’
Professor Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said she was ‘delighted’ that Professor Steve Field has been appointed to this role.
She added: ‘As a GP and immediate past Chair of the RCGP, he has a long history of service to general practice and to his patients. It is really encouraging that the role will be carried out by someone who understands GPs and the challenges we face in delivering the best possible patient care with diminishing budgets and resources.
‘We know that Steve will champion general practice and the efforts of hardworking GPs in his new role and bring sense to the array of inspection regimes that GPs are already subjected to.’