CQC must halt 'unacceptable' seven-fold fee rise, BMA warns

The BMA has called on the CQC to halt its 'unacceptable' plans to more than triple the fee charged to GPs from this April and increase them to almost seven times the current rate in 2017/18.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: CQC fee rise 'unacceptable' (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: CQC fee rise 'unacceptable' (Photo: Pete Hill)

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the CQC’s decision to increase fees seven-fold over two years instead of four showed that it had completely ignored its own consultation, ‘making a mockery of the whole exercise’.

He 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.'

Map: GP CQC ratings by CCG

The BMA reaction to a rise in fees reflects growing GP anger with the CQC. Earlier this year, GPs at an emergency LMC conference demanded a campaign to abolish CQC inspection of general practice.

‘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 10 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.’

Dr Steve Kell, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC), said: ‘It is very disappointing that the CQC have not listened to the views of our members or to the vast majority of those who took part in their consultation on the proposed increases to regulatory fees for providers.

GP CQC fees

‘To then forge ahead with a two-year repayment scheme despite the financial challenges that the whole system is currently facing and strong preference expressed for the four-year option, only confirms some of the major concerns that our members had expressed about whether this was a genuine consultation process.

‘We still remain concerned about the impact that the proposed fee increases will have on the services that our members commission for patients. Although there has been additional funding announced for GP practices to cover these fees, this money would be better spent on direct frontline patient care rather than supporting a regulatory regime that has yet to prove itself to be efficient in carrying out its statutory duties or effective in delivering meaningful improvements in quality.

‘Given that the consultation on the CQC’s strategy for the next five years has only recently concluded and will not be published until May, it still feels premature to set fee levels and therefore an estimated budget for an organisation that has not as yet determined its structure and functions throughout the period.’

Announcing the fee rise earlier today, CQC chief executive David Behan said: ‘We understand that the scheme that has been put forward is not the one the majority of those who took part in our consultation would have preferred.

‘In order to achieve our requirement to the government and commitment to the taxpayer, we need to work towards reaching full cost recovery while reducing our overall budget by at least £32m.'

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