Exclusive The CQC has slashed the rate it pays the GP special advisors on its inspections teams in a cost-cutting measure, despite practices facing a 600% fee hike.
The regulator told the GP special advisors that it was cutting pay by 12.07% – or £58 – per inspection, citing a need to contain costs in a ‘reduced financial model’.
GP leaders said that it shows how little they value their specialist workforce, who are essential to fairer inspections, and raises questions about where the 600% increase in fees over two years is being spent.
But Pulse also understands that the CQC may have to shell out backdated holiday pay for the majority of its GP specialist advisors (SpA) workforce – although it has not told this directly to its workforce.
This change to SpA pay is part of a new contract that has been imposed on all advisers on its books, including the 548 GP inspectors.
As advisers are employed under a casual worker arrangement, the CQC can legally change their terms unilaterally, with the new contract coming in from 19 September.
The new arrangements have come about after the regulator realised that only 13% of its SpAs were being paid holiday pay that they were entitled to.
This means that it will be faced with claims for backdated holiday pay from the remainder of the GP SpA workforce.
In an attempt to mitigate future costs, the CQC slashed the basic pay from £540 to £482 per inspection.
GP SpAs will still be paid £540 overall, but this will incorporate holiday pay. They are currently entitled to fees of around £605.
A CQC spokesperson told Pulse: ‘When we reviewed our payment structure for specialist advisors, it became clear that only a small number received holiday pay while a larger number did not.
‘To ensure CQC meets its legal obligations, holiday pay is now included the daily rate.
‘This means that for the majority who did not receive holiday pay in addition to the fee, there is no change, but for minority who did, this is a reduction in the total received.’
Dr Robert Morley chair of the GPC’s contracts and regulation subcommittee told Pulse: ‘It’s a pity that CQC doesn’t recognise the value of recruiting high quality GP advisors. I’d have thought that cutting their pay would be the last thing they’d want to do but clearly not.
’It begs the question as to what CQC is now spending its money on following its massive hike in GP registration fees. They’ve probably decided it needs to go on more expensive lawyers following the recent embarrassments over information governance and in the High Court.’
Specialist advisors were introduced as part of the CQC’s overhauled inspection regime and a GP now attends on every visit.
In the early days of the regime Pulse revealed the watcdog had been sending untrained GPs to inspections to ‘fill in gaps’ in their inspections.
The CQC’s decision to hike their fees 600% in just two years, came despite the majority of respondents to its consultation advising a slower introduction of the new fees.