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GMC forecasts £2m loss as doctors head for exit over revalidation

The GMC has revealed a hole in its finances of up to £2.3m this year due to revalidation discouraging more doctors not to renew their licence to practise.

A GMC Council paper warns the regulator may have to stomach a reduction in income from £96.3m in 2012 to £95.6m in 2013, although if more doctors than expected fail to renew their registration then this could drop to as low as £94m.

The regulator has also begun a survey of doctors to ‘provide a clearer picture’ of the likely level of non-renewal, amid concerns about the true level of the financial impact revalidation could have this year on the regulator.

The GMC has pledged to freeze the annual retention fee at £390 for doctors this year, but this is based on their income not falling below £95.6m and GP leaders have warned that the GMC must manage its finances to accomodate the losses, and not pass it on to GPs in the form of higher registration fees.

A financial report - presented to GMC Council last month - predicts ‘a degree of volatility’ from the introduction of revalidation this year and that current estimates show the regulator’s income from fees could reduce substantially this year.

The GMC resources committee said it was ‘financially sound in 2013’, but future years were ‘sensitive to future expenditure plans and the extent to which revalidation prompts doctors to reconsider their registration status’.

They went to say: ‘The fee levels proposed in this report will generate total income of £95.6m in 2013, based on the assumptions set out in this report. However, the introduction of revalidation creates a degree of volatility to our income projections and actual income could fall within the range of £94m to £96m.’

GMC figures show 10,800 doctors have decided not to renew their membership and there is uncertainty over a further 21,900 doctors who have not yet provided the GMC with the name of the organisation that will revalidate them, despite repeated requests from the regulator.

Dr John Canning, chair of the GPC’s Professional Fees and Regulation committee, said revalidation was a factor in many GPs’ decision to retire early.

He said: ‘GPs are facing budget constraints, more implications on pensions and heavier workload. If you happen to be in your revalidation year you might think “I’m going to take my pension now”.’

But he warned the GMC to use their savings to bridge their drop in income, rather than raise fees: ‘The risk if they lose registrants is that fees will go up.

‘[But] they’re not starting from a zero base, they have reserves. I think instead of raising fees while this new system is being introduced I would expect them to use money from their accumulated fund.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GPC negotiator, said: ‘It’s undoubtable more GPs will retire this year. It’s clear when you look at spread of GPs, GPs in their 50s are taking early retirement. Revalidation won’t be the main reason why GPs retire, but it could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The GMC will have to look at how to manage its finances accordingly.’

The GMC was asked to comment, but was not able to respond in time for publication.

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