The CQC has proposed to increase the fees for GP inspection by more than 550% within two years, translating to an increase of £15,000 for some practices.
In a consultation document released today, the regulator has proposed a set of radical fee hikes that will mean providers will cover the full costs of inspections, with its first proposal calling on larger practices to pay £17,893 in 2017/18, compared with £2,681 this year.
However, the Department of Health has said that it will put £15m into the GP contract for next year to cover most of the costs, and will review future years’ costs.
But the GPC has said it is concerned that this funding will not cover the huge increase in fees, which it says could be the ‘final straw’ for some practices.
Pulse reported earlier this year that the CQC was having to move to a funding structure whereby providers cover the full costs of inspections.
The initial indications were that this would result in fees doubling, but the consultation released today reveals that the fees will increase more than six-fold.
Under the first proposal:
- small practices – with up to 5,000 patients – will see their fees increase from £616 to £2,187 in 2016/17, and £4,111 by 2017/18;
- single location practices with between 5,000 and 10,000 patients will see their fees increased from £725 this year to £2,574 next year, and £4,839 in 2017/18;
- practices with more than five locations will see their fees increased from £2,681 this year, to £9,518 and £17,893 in 2017/18.
Under the second proposal, the new fees will be implemented incrementally by 2019/20, but will also see fees for all practices almost doubled in the first year.
A DH spokesperson told Pulse that is was putting £15m into the GP contract to help practices with the rise in CQC fees.
They said: ‘We want the NHS to be the safest health care service in the world and the CQC plays a vital role. We have always been clear that we expect the CQC to recover its costs through fees.
‘These fees allow CQC’s tough inspection regime to drive up standards across the country and ultimately make sure patients get safe and compassionate care.’
The £15m should cover the increases in 2016/17, the DH claimed. However, it will review further potential increases in the value of the GP contract in future years.
But Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘GPs will be outraged at the huge hike in fees that CQC are proposing – and at the same time they see very little value for what the CQC are actually doing, and yet they are the ones which will be footing the bill for it. If anything, practices which are really struggling and our under financial pressure, it could be the final straw which breaks the camel’s back.
‘We need to see the full details of this proposed £15m investment from the Department of Health. Practices would have had promises of uplift to expenses over the recent years – and they’ve led to actual pay cuts rather than increases. So there are many other pressures on practices’ time and it is doubtful the investment from the Department would necessarily recompence practices from the unreasonable hike in CQC expenses.
’What we need to see is a real reduction in the CQC bureaucracy and costs – so their rise is not needed or necessary.’
In the foreword to the consultation, interim chair Michael Mire and chief executive David Behan, said: ’We do not underestimate the impact on providers of paying fees, and we will continue to look carefully at our costs relating to regulation. We have a responsibility to cover our costs by charging fees, but we are also accountable for demonstrating thatwe are fair, efficient, effective and proportionate.’
The fee for the 2015/16 year represented a 9% increase on 2014/15.