Sir Ian Kennedy, former Chairman of the Healthcare Commission, will take over as Chair of The King's Fund's inquiry into the quality of general practice in England.
Sir Ian replaces the Fund's Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, who is stepping down from the role ahead of his departure to become Chief Executive at the General Medical Council in January 2010.
Sir Ian will chair the inquiry panel, which was established in April 2009 and consists of: Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of the NHS Alliance; Professor Steve Field, Chair of the Royal College of GPs; Professor Martin Roland, Professor of Health Service Research at the University of Cambridge; Dr Rebecca Rosen, a GP, Senior Associate of The King's Fund and Senior Fellow at the Nuffield Trust; and Ursula Gallagher, Director of Quality, Clinical Governance and Clinical Practice at NHS Ealing.
Led by Sir Ian, the panellists are working to build up a picture of what high-quality care looks like, establish the role of GPs in delivering services and explore how GPs can be supported to improve care.
They are examining a number of key areas, including patients' access to care, the quality of diagnosis and referral, and how patients with long-term conditions are cared for.
Sir Ian said: "I am delighted to lead this inquiry – it is vital that we develop more effective ways of measuring the quality of care delivered by our GPs and other primary care professionals.
"On the whole they provide excellent care but we know standards are not universally high. By investigating how care is delivered in general practice, this inquiry aims to both shed light on patients' perspectives of the care they receive, and to establish how professional practice can be improved to meet and exceed those patients' expectations."
The inquiry will shortly launch a major survey to explore the views of GPs, other primary care professionals and patients about the quality of care delivered in general practice.
This will be followed by an extensive engagement phase, in early 2010, in which findings from the inquiry's research projects will be "road tested" through a series of events with professionals before the final report is published later in the year.