The GMC has announced a range of new fees and increased charges, which it said would particularly affect international medical graduates and GPs who are working overseas and want to maintain their GMC licence.
The regulator hopes to generate an additional £2.4m a year by 2017, and the new charges comeson top of an 8% increase in registration fees in April this year.
Following a spending review, chief executive Niall Dickson said the new fees and increases in charges were necessary because all doctors were subsidising services used by a minority of doctors.
But the BMA has warned that the introduction new charges for international medical graduates (IMGs) and returners must not become an additional barrier when general practice is in the middle of a national workforce crisis.
The new charges include:
- An increase of almost 75% in the costs of the two Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board exams, which currently total £620 but will be raised to £1,070 by February 2016.
- New administration fee of £250 for doctors who have retired or are working abroad but wish to retain their GMC license and £1,100 for them to go through revalidation.
- An administration charge of £8 for GPs paying their annual fees in quarterly or monthly instalments, a 1.5% levy on credit card transactions and a £10 charge for registration status changes such as when a GP opts for ‘voluntary erasure’ of their registration.
Estimating the combined income from the changes, the GMC states: ‘The fee proposals will generate additional annual income of around £1.6 million in 2016, rising to £2.4 million from 2017 onwards.
’Inevitably the introduction of new or enhanced fee levels may attract negative feedback from those having to pay higher fees but this would be mitigated through a clear and transparent communications campaign.’
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA equality and inclusion committee chair, said: ‘At a time when doctors are seeing real-terms pay cuts year on year, we must ensure that professional costs do not change disproportionally.
‘While we are encouraged by the GMC’s continuing efforts to keep the costs of the annual retention down, it is important we ensure the fee rise for international medical graduates, who make a huge contribution to the NHS, does not become a barrier to them joining the NHS workforce and providing vital healthcare services in the UK.’
Niall Dickson said: ‘We have a longstanding principle that our fees should cover what our services actually cost to deliver. In some cases they are no longer doing that. We also believe that where possible the annual retention fee paid by all doctors should not subsidise specific services which only a small number of doctors use.
‘We will review all these fees on a regular basis, to make sure we continue to recover our costs. We are also exploring the possibility of whether we can charge for offering some services internationally.’