The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has appointed Professor Steve Field as its first Chief Inspector of General Practice.
Professor Field, a GP and past Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, joins CQC from NHS England, where he was its deputy national medical director responsible for addressing health inequalities.
The Chief Inspector of General Practice will lead CQC's inspection and regulation of providers of primary care services across the public, private and independent sectors. As more care is provided to people outside hospital, the Chief Inspector has a particularly important role in ensuring those services are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs and well led.
Professor Field will champion the interests of people who use primary medical and dental services and make judgments about the quality of care provided. An essential part of the role will be to ensure that CQC is providing assurance that the health and adult social care services join up seamlessly from the perspective of people who use services. The appointment completes the CQC's new senior management team.
He will also introduce a ratings system for registered primary care providers. The system will identify good as well as poor care in order to support commissioning decisions and a more informed user choice, as well as providing assurance that the fundamental standards are met and action is taken where improvements are needed.
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.
'I am sad to be leaving NHS England, and the great team that we've established, but I am looking forward to working with Mike Richards again and joining David Behan's executive team, which has been making great strides in moving the CQC forward in a very positive direction.'
Welcoming the appointment, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, 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.'
CQC chair, David Prior said: 'This is the third appointment of the three chief inspectors – hospitals, adult social care, and general practice – and completes the top team at CQC under Chief Executive, David Behan. Collectively that team will lead the changes to the way we work as a regulator, improving the way we ensure that health and care services are safe, effective, caring, well-led and responsive to people's needs.'
CQC chief executive, David Behan said: 'It is important that the chief inspector of general practice is trusted not only by his peers in primary care, but leaders, staff, and managers throughout the NHS. Steve Field is known and respected across healthcare and is the ideal person to lead our work in primary medical and dental services as well as to ensure that those services link well with other health services and with social care."
Professor Field will continue to practice as a GP at Bellevue Medical Centre in Birmingham.
In 2010, Professor Field received a CBE for his Services to Medicine in the Queen's 2010 New Year's Honours List.