All GP practices will be forced to register with the Care Quality Commission by April 2013, after the Government snubbed calls from GP leaders and medical defence experts to push back the registration deadline further to avoid overburdening doctors.
The Department of Health today confirmed that, as set out in its consultation proposals published in June, the deadline for registering GP practices will be put back a year, from April 2012 to April 2013.
However ministers have rejected submissions to the consultation from the GPC and the Medical Defence Union to ‘radically rethink' registration and further relax the timetable, amid concerns a 2013 deadline will clash with the introduction of revalidation and GPs taking on commissioning responsibility.
The Department of Health has amended the timetable set out in its June consultation to delay the deadline for walk-in centres to register until April 2013, but out-of-hours services will still have to register by April 2012, despite GPC concerns.
Legislation to take account of the revised timetable will now go through Parliament in the autumn.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The registration of GP practices by the CQC) will now take place by April 2013. Out of hours providers that are not GP practices looking after their own patients will be required to register with CQC by April 2012.'
In their responses to the consultation, both the GPC and the MDU flagged up fears that an April 2013 deadline was unrealistic.
In a strongly-worded submission last month, the GPC said: ‘We have concerns about the capacity of the CQC to manage the registration and compliance of all primary medical services providers from April 2013, and would suggest that consideration is given to a more flexible approach.'
In a separate submission published earlier this week, Dr Mike Devlin, MDU head of Advisory Services, said: ‘If GPs are required to register with the CQC at the same time as they are expected to provide all the information for revalidation, we believe this would impose an unnecessary and potentially insupportable regulatory burden on them and their practice.'
The GPC also raised a range of wider concerns about the CQC plans, claiming the registration requirements were ‘overly burdensome' and warning GPs would be diverted from patient care and hit with hefty registration fees. The DH told Pulse it will be publishing a full consultation response on the CQC plans after parliament has introduced the deadline change in Autumn.
Responding to the DH announcement, a BMA spokesperson said:
'The BMA is pleased that the DH has announced the delay to the registration of GP practices with the CQC until April 2013. It is particularly encouraging that the DH has taken on board the BMA's advice and included walk-in centres in this delay.'
'However, a lot of work still needs to be done on reducing the compliance requirements on practices so that they are not overburdened by needless bureaucracy. The BMA will continue to lobby for action in this area.'
Speaking to Pulse, the MDU's Dr Devlin said:
'We welcome the delay in CQC registration - there needed to be a posponement from the 2012 deadline. However, we would have preferred that the date of 2013 be reconsidered. It clashes with revalidation and probably the shift to commissioning. There will be a significant amount of upheaval facing GPs.'