The introduction of fee increases on GP practices by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) makes a mockery of the regulator’s consultations with doctors, the BMA has said.
The response comes as the CQC confirmed increases in the fees to be charged to providers of health and adult social care in 2016-17, including general practice and certain NHS trusts.
Under the new fee structures, single-location GPs with 5,001-10,000 patients will see a £1,849 increase from £725 in 2015-16 to £2,574 in 2016-17.
The fee increases mean NHS trusts with incomes of between £125m and £225m will see a £58,656 rise in their fees, from £78,208 in 2015-16 to £136,864 in 2016-17.
BMA GP committee chair Chaand Nagpaul, pictured, said the regulator’s decision to press ahead with increases added insult to injury to a general practice workforce already overburdened with patient demand and lack of resources.
He said: ‘The CQC’s proposed rises are wholly disproportionate and unwarranted.
'These increases will see a significant rise in fees for GP practices at a time when many are under intense, unsustainable pressure from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages.
‘The planned changes show the CQC has completely ignored the vast majority of responses to its consultation and its announcement today makes a mockery of the whole exercise.’
Dr Nagpaul said a rise in fees in addition to the regulator’s cumbersome inspections process was demoralising doctors, with a recent BMA survey revealing that the process left three-quarters of GPs feeling more likely to leave the profession.
He added: ‘GPs have long since lost confidence in a cumbersome, time-consuming CQC process that has been beset by U-turns and mismanagement, including the withdrawal last year of part of the inspection programme, which ludicrously allocated ratings to practices before inspectors had even arrived at the practice.
‘At present there is little evidence that the public is benefiting from this over-bureaucratic and expensive system.
'The CQC needs to listen to grassroots GPs and the BMA’s response to its consultation and reverse these unacceptable proposed increases.’
Confirmation of the increases comes after a 2015 consultation by the CQC, which saw a majority of respondents opt for fee increases to be applied over four years rather than two.
However, CQC chief executive David Behan said his organisation had had no choice but to implement increases over two years as a result of reductions in grant-in-aid funding from the Government.
He said: ‘In order to achieve our requirement to the Government and commitment to the taxpayer, we need to work towards reaching full cost recovery while reducing our overall budget by at least £32m.
‘The fee paid by providers is the charge for entering and remaining in a regulated sector.
'The public deserves nothing less than safe, high-quality and compassionate health and adult social care, and we must continue to act in their best interests.’
The story so far
Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.