Steve Field has been appointed as the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of general practice.
Professor Field is currently one of two NHS England deputy medical directors, responsible for health inequalities.
He is the immediate past chair of the Royal College of GPs and led the government’s Future Forum rethink of its NHS reform plans in 2011. He practices part time in Birmingham.
Professor Field is the third of three chief inspectors to be appointed to the CQC under government plans announced following Robert Francis QC’s Mid Staffordshire public inquiry report. They form part of an overhauled approach to inspection and regulation.
His role will include introducing quality ratings for primary care providers.
A CQC statement said: “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…
“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.”
NHS England’s GP lead and deputy medical director Mike Bewick told HSJ this month that the work of the chief inspector, in collaboration with NHS England’s commissioning, would bring about a “sea change” in identifying and addressing poor quality general practice.
Professor Field said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “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.”
CQC chief executive David Behan said: “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 is the latest in a string of prominent high level appointments at the CQC. Mr Behan joined last year and chair David Prior earlier this year. Recent appointments include Sir Mike Richards as chief inspector of hospitals, Andrea Sutcliffe as chief inspector for social care, and Paul Bate as strategy director.