Doctors in the UK are demanding the resignation of the NHS chief inspector, after Professor Stephen Field criticised failing surgeries.
Both the doctors’ union and its powerful professional body have ordered Professor Field to apologise after he revealed how thousands of patients were at risk.
This conflict follows comments from the chief inspector in which he suggested that he was ashamed by the quality of care being provided by general practitioners.
In particular, Field suggested that one-third of surgeries are failing to meet basic safety requirements, resulting in some being closed down on the spot immediately.
The British Medical Association has called for Field to resign, while the Royal College of GPs said he must ‘apologise’ for his ‘unfounded’ remarks.
Commenting on the issue, the Health Secretary defended the statement of Field, speaking positively about both his courage and expertise.
“Professor Field is a courageous and expert voice for patients – calling for improvements in general practice where necessary, but also recognising the excellent care taking place across the country. A former GP and President of the Royal College, his credibility is beyond question, and we absolutely back his independent judgements as Chief Inspector.”
But organisations representing health professionals have been scathing about the remarks of the chief inspector.
In particular, the British Medical Association (BMA) has issued a statement indicating that Field should resign immediately.
The BMA has advanced a position of no confidence in Field, with prominent individuals from the British Medical Association condemning his comments.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GP committee Attempting to put the situation of the average general practitioner into perspective.
“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.”
Equally, Nagpaul was supported by Dr Maureen Baker, of the Royal College of Gps.
Baker was possibly even stronger in her comments, accusing professor Field of making “misleading, unfounded and denigrating comments.”
In addition, Baker suggested that the comments of Field was simply not supported by evidence.
With a major fissure among the upper echelons of the health service on this issue, it is clear that the position of Professor Field may remain in the balance in the days to come.