Doctors urge chief inspector of GPs to resign


Doctors have called for England's chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field to resign, as his successor at the Royal College of GPs also launched a stinging attack on him.

The British Medical Association's GP Committee passed a motion of no confidence in Professor Field and said he should resign immediately.

It comes as Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said Professor Field was no longer viewed "as fair or impartial" and had made "unfounded and scaremongering" comments about family doctors to the media and to MPs.

Professor Field is the chief inspector for GP practices in England and is based at the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Dr Baker said that repeated comments by Professor Field - a predecessor of hers as RCGP chairman - have led to unfounded concern among patients about the quality of care they receive.

She said he must apologise and had also damaged the concept of regulation among family doctors and their morale.

It comes after Professor Field was quoted as saying he was "ashamed" and "shocked" that some of his colleagues were providing such poor care following inspections at practices.

He also said he believed "we have failed as a profession".

He told MPs on the Commons health committee: "The CQC puts backbone into performance management for general practice - systems failed to act before."

Dr Baker said: "GPs are supportive in general of regulation, however the way Steve has gone about making misleading, unfounded and denigrating comments about the level of care that hard-working GPs provide to their patients is rapidly undermining the concept of regulation.

"He repeatedly makes sensationalist and non-evidenced claims about how bad the level of patient care is - which must inevitably scare patients.

"As the chief inspector of general practice, Steve needs to be seen as being fair and impartial, but given the scaremongering comments he has made this is no longer the case. To be quite frank, he has now clearly lost the confidence of the profession."

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA's GP committee chairman, said: "When the vast majority of practices are managing to maintain high quality care against all odds in the face of falling resources, staff shortages and rising patient demand, the chief inspector should be vocally supporting GP services and not undermining them.

"It is clear that the CQC inspection regime is not fit for purpose. The current process is disproportionate, expensive and bureaucratic, and takes GPs and their staff away from spending time looking after their patients.

"It includes endless amounts of pointless paperwork, such as box ticking exercises aimed at scrutinising the details of internal practice meetings. The CQC has already had to perform a U-turn this year over its widely discredited risk banding programme which formed judgements before inspectors had even arrived at a practice."