General practitioner

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BMA will challenge increase in GP fees

The BMA will 'robustly challenge' proposals to increase GPs' fees by nearly sevenfold over a three-year period.

The association said the move by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) could be the final straw for many practices.

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul warned that the CQC's plans to consult on increasing its fees from the current level of £1,196 a year to £3,219 by 2018-19 represented a ‘significant financial burden’ and would further reduce resources for frontline services.

He said: ‘GPs will be staggered at the consultation proposals from the CQC for an unprecedented increase in practice fees at time when many are struggling financially.

‘Requiring GPs to pay more for an imposed system they do not have confidence in adds insult to injury and will do nothing to repair the poor standing of the CQC with the GP profession at large.’


Final straw

He added: ‘This significant financial burden could be the final straw for many GPs and practices, with many already having to cope with swingeing cuts to their core budgets and escalating costs of keeping a practice open.’

In announcing its review into provider fees, the CQC has suggested plans that would see payments made by NHS GPs rise significantly between 2016 and 2019.

The precise breakdown would see the annual sum go from £1,196 to £1,341 in the period 2016-17, £1,974 to £2,146 in 2017-18 and £3,158 to £3,219 in 2018-19 for single-location GPs with between 5,001 and 10,000 registered patients.

If approved, Dr Nagpaul said the increase would mean that general practice would be collectively stumping up £40m a year for the regulator, adding that the BMA would ‘robustly challenge’ the proposals during the consultation.

He said: 'It is an inexplicable move given the CQC is itself reviewing its inspection programme with a stated aim of introducing a scaled down process with fewer inspections.

‘The BMA had already called for an end to the disproportionate, bureaucratic nature of CQC inspections, which currently has a focus on pointless box-ticking that takes GPs and staff away from caring for patients.'


Cost recovery

CQC chief executive David Behan said that the increases were necessary for the CQC to meet Government requirements on the recovery of chargeable costs, adding that he welcomed feedback from all those taking part in the consultation.

He said: ‘We are required to move to full cost recovery and are consulting on how we do this.

'We recognise the financial pressures faced by many providers, and do not underestimate the impact of any changes to their fees.

‘We developed our proposals with an expert panel, including representatives from the providers we regulate.’

The consultation runs until noon on 15 January 2016, with the final decision over payments and fees to be taken by the health secretary.

Read more about the fees consultation

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