General practitioner England

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GPs and trusts face 'exorbitant' CQC fees hike

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GPs and NHS trusts face huge regulatory fee rises under proposals the BMA says could be devastating for the health service.

The plans proposed by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) could mean a sevenfold rise for GPs working in multiple locations and would mean practices in England paid a total of £40m a year to the regulator.

The association says these ‘exorbitant’ hikes are ‘inexplicable’ given that the CQC is looking to scale down its inspection process and warns of a potentially catastrophic effect on patient care for small GP practices, whose fees could rise from £725 to £4,839 in two years.

Doctors leaders say the plans in a CQC consultation expose the cynicism behind the Government’s comprehensive spending review to account for the NHS England budget — separate from the Department of Health’s funds.

‘By forcing NHS providers to pay fees direct to CQC — masquerading as full costs recovery — the Government will no doubt assert a decrease in DH spend, while in reality mercilessly raiding a budget, purportedly ringfenced for frontline services,’ the BMA says in its formal response to the consultation, which looks at whether the CQC should move to full costs recovery within two or four years.

 

'Bloated bureaucracy'

It adds: ‘As the sole provider of system regulation and consequently with a monopoly and captive market, the CQC is an increasingly bloated bureaucracy with little focus on value for money or analysis of the real performance indicators linking cost to quality outcomes.’

The BMA points out how the consultation has shied away from the cost of running the CQC, adding: ‘We challenge the CQC, particularly in undertaking its review of regulation of GP practices, to demonstrate clear links between cost and tangible benefits for those whom it regulates and their patients.’

The association says it believes the consultation is ‘flawed’, particularly as it is being carried out at a time when the NHS is having to make unprecedented 2-3 per cent efficiency savings a year for the next five years.

Potential effects of the proposed annual fees include:

  • NHS trusts with turnovers of £125m-£225m would see a threefold rise from £78,208 in 2015-16 to £215,835 in 2017-18
  • Single-location GPs with 5,001-10,000 patients would see a sevenfold rise from £725 to £4,839 in two years
  • Multiple-location GPs (working in five locations) could see fees increase sevenfold to £17,893; they are currently £2,681.

GPs will next weekend debate calls to oppose any rise in CQC fees demanded of practices and discuss how all fees should be fully reimbursed.

The special local medical committees conference will also say how the profession has eroded morale and had an adverse effect on the sustainability of practices.

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The story so far

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