From The Guardian, 28 August 2013. Story by Randeep Ramesh.
A former head of the Royal College of GPs has been appointed the first chief inspector of general practice.
Professor Steve Field will join the Care Quality Commission (CQC) from NHS England where he was deputy national medical director responsible for addressing health inequalities.
In his new role he will “champion the interests of people using GP and dental services”, the CQC said.
Field will oversee the commission's inspection and regulation of all providers of primary care in England, including public, private and independent sectors.
Considered a Whitehall insider, Field has worked closely with Labour and was asked by the prime minister to lead a controversial review into the coalition's disputed health reforms .
In his new role, Field is expected to introduce a ratings system for registered primary care providers that identify good as well as poor care. The British Medical Association has cautioned that the new inspection regime should not add another layer of regulation to the NHS.
“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.”
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said:
“In Steve Field we have found a formidable chief inspector of general practice who will speak up for patients without fear or favour.
“Steve will have the power and authority to judge how well each practice is serving patients, help us to celebrate the best practices, and take tough action where standards aren't up to scratch.
“GP surgeries are the bedrock of our NHS, providing vital long-term care for some of our most vulnerable and elderly.
I am determined that patients who rely on them get the excellent service they deserve every time.”