CQC's 9% fee hike is a 'financial blow' to GP practices

Practices will be expected to pay a 9% increase in CQC fees from April as the regulator bumps up charges to help recover costs from implementing its divisive new inspection regime.

CQC ratings: fees GPs pay to regulator are rising
CQC ratings: fees GPs pay to regulator are rising

The CQC says the fee increase – approved by health secretary Jeremy Hunt – will help it ‘effectively register, monitor and inspect providers’ to ensure people receive ‘safe, high-quality and compassionate’ care.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey described the increase as a ‘financial blow’ to practices and called upon the regulator to ‘re-evaluate’ its decision.

The rise equates to £69 for a practice with 10,001-15,000 registered patients, bringing their overall annual fee for 2015/16 up to £839.

Recoup costs

GP reported that the watchdog was planning to raise fees last October, after a CQC consultation document revealed that the change was necessary to help recoup the £44m costs of its overhauled inspection regime, an increase which was mainly funded from the taxpayer’s pocket.

But it warned that this arrangement could not continue, as government policy dictates regulators must meet ‘the full chargeable costs of their activities through fees’, meaning practices and other providers must now step up to bridge the gap.

The 9% increase follows the 2.5% increase the CQC implemented last year. It will consult on whether to raise fees again for the following year, 2016/17, this autumn.

CQC 'did not listen to feedback'

Dr Vautrey said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that the views of 80% of the respondents to the consultation have been ignored and GP practices will be facing yet another increase in CQC fees.

‘This will be a further financial blow to GP practices just weeks after the DDRB failed to act on the rising cost of GP practice expenses in their recommendations. These separate squeezes on GP budgets at a time of rising patient demand will inevitable reduce resources available for patient care.

'The CQC should re-evaluate this decision and actually listen to the opinions expressed in the consultation.'

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said that it was ‘determined to deliver value for money by being an efficient and effective organisation’.

He said: ‘We understand that the increase in fees is happening at a difficult economic time for many providers but we hope that they, and importantly those who use their services, are seeing the benefits of our inspections, which allow us to identify where improvements are needed and to celebrate what services are doing well.’

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