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#GPnews: CQC’s fee hikes are ‘wholly unwarranted’

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Whole town looking at employed model of general practice 

Mental health trust to run GP practices alongside GP provider company

16:24 Despite strong opposition from the GP profession, the CQC has decided to push ahead with its hike in the annual fees it charges healthcare providers. 

Following a consultation on the fee increases, the regualtor has chosen to bring in the six-fold fee hikes over two years rather than spread it over four – two options it previously mooted. 

The rise in fees means that practices with between 5,000 and 10,000 patients would have to pay almost £2,000 more from April. Read Pulse’s full story here.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair said: ‘The CQC’s proposed rises are wholly disproportionate and unwarranted. These increases will see a significant rise in fees for GP practices at a time when many are under intense, unsustainable pressure from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages. The planned changes show the CQC has completely ignored the vast majority of responses to its consultation and its announcement today makes a mockery of the whole exercise.

‘GPs have long since lost confidence in a cumbersome, time consuming CQC process that has been beset by U-turns and mismanagement, including the withdrawal last year of part of the inspection programme which ludicrously allocated ratings to practices before inspectors had even arrived at the practice. A recent BMA survey found that eight out of ten GPs felt that preparing for inspections reduced the time they spent caring for patients, while three quarters felt that the entire process made them more likely to leave general practice altogether.

‘At present there is little evidence that the public is benefiting from this over bureaucratic and expensive system.  The CQC needs to listen to grassroots GPs and the BMA’s response to its consultation and reverse these unacceptable proposed increases.’ 

12:45 Professor Maureen Baker has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt today to back his move to invest £4bn to create a ‘paperless NHS’ – but she has insisted a large proportion of it must go to general practice in order for the fund to have a positive impact on patients. 

In her letter, she states: ‘The RCGP has long championed the importance of good IT for the success of general practice and the wider health service. Effective IT systems can enable the use of video or instant message consultations which improve access to family doctors and help continuity of care; help streamline the referrals process and avoid unnecessary errors; allow patients to book appointments more easily; and enable patients with long term conditions to monitor their own health.’

However, Professor Baker’s letter goes on to raise concern over the viability of Mr Hunt’s target for 10% patients to be accessing general practice online by 2017.

‘In order to move this – and other promised improvements – from the drawing board to reality it is essential that a substantial proportion of the £4bn IT infrastructure fund goes to general practice,’ Professor Baker added. 

9:40 The number of hospital doctors in training reduced by 0.5% (256) last year, according to official statistics out today.

The number of full-time equivalent consultants rose by 3.9% (1,610) in 2015 compared to 2014, the annual NHS workforce census revealed.

Nurses and health visitor numbers grew marginally, by 0.9% (2,500), as did the midwife workforce, by 0.5% (96).

But the biggest rise was in the number of NHS managers, which increased by 6.5% (1,240) on 2014, including a 5.3% (466) increase in the number of senior managers.

The figures for the GP workforce were due today, but a technical problem prevented their publication, the Health and Social Care Information Centre told Pulse.

9:30 Our top story today is an exclusive revealing that GP practices in one town are all considering the option of going fully salaried.

The practices in Gosport, Hampshire, are all struggling with recruitment, and a ‘new model of care’ – formed alongside the local trust – is proving popular. 

Read the full story here.