CQC plans 9% fee increase for GP practices

The CQC intends to hike up fees for GP practices by 9% in order to help cover the costs of its revamped inspection scheme, according to a consultation document for 2015/16.

CQC: fees for GP practices set to rise
CQC: fees for GP practices set to rise

The proposal, revealed in consultation documents released on Tuesday, is currently being considered by the CQC, and would take effect from 1 April 2015.

The 9% increase will see the annual fee of a practice with 5,001 to 10,000 registered patients rise from £665 to £725 per year, an increase of £60. A 10,001 to 15,000-strong practice will see a £69 increase to £839 a year.

Across all GP practices, the increase should see the CQC’s income from primary care fees increase by £500,000 from £5.4m in 2014/15 to £5.9m.

GP leaders warned in January that it should not fall to GPs to cover the escalating costs of CQC inspections, which were expected to double over the next few years, according to CQC chairman David Prior.

The 9% increase is substantially higher than the 2.5% increase the CQC implemented over the past two financial years.

£44m rise in spending

It follows a £44m rise in CQC spending this financial year to support the increased costs of implementing its new, ‘more intensive’ inspection regime.

The CQC launched a revamped inspection scheme for general practice at the beginning of the month, which heralded a new approach to monitoring and rating primary care services.

But the CQC warned that the cost impact of these changes must now be picked up ‘from fees paid by providers’.

Fees from providers serve as the majority of the regulator’s income, the rest of which is provided through grant-in-aid from the government.

The lion’s share of the £44m increase in spending has been paid for by the taxpayer through the government’s grant-in-aid this financial year. But the CQC said this position was ‘not sustainable as it is not in line with government policy for regulators to meet the full chargeable costs of their activities through fees’.

CQC more accountable

It added that a move for more funding to be covered by providers fees would serve to make the watchdog ‘more accountable to the sectors we regulate’.

In addition to general practice, all registered providers except for dentists will see a 9% increase in fees. The dental sector is exempt because the CQC already recovers the full amount it spends regulating it.

Across all providers, the 9% increase is expected to generate £113m, which still only covers 58% of the relevant budget, suggesting fees will continue to rise each year before it can cover the ‘full chargeable costs’.

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