Exclusive: GPs face CQC fees proportionally five times higher than hospitals

GP practices will be forced to hand over a three to five times larger proportion of their annual funding than NHS trusts for CQC registration once a controversial fee hike takes effect, GPonline can reveal.

Funding: GPs will have to spend a higher proportion of funding on CQC fees than hospitals
Funding: GPs will have to spend a higher proportion of funding on CQC fees than hospitals

The watchdog’s controversial plans to recoup its full costs from providers by significantly increasing its annual fees will hit GP practices much harder than NHS trusts, analysis has shown.

The fee hike – which will see practices paying close to seven times the amount they do now – will amount to 0.47% of the average practice’s annual funding.

Annual fees for the average GP practice – which has a list size of between 5,000 and 10,000 registered patients – will leap from £725 to £4,839 over the coming years, the CQC announced last week.

Average total funding for a practice of this size was £1,032,221 last financial year, suggesting that practices will soon have to spend around 0.47% of their income on CQC fees.

But for the average NHS trust, with a turnover between £125m and £225m, fees will rise to almost £216,000, representing between just 0.10% and 0.17% of their income – three to five times smaller than the proportion GP practices will have to pay.

Map: GP CQC ratings

GP leaders condemned the disproportionate fee increase, which comes as official figures reveal that GP practices are outperforming all other providers in CQC inspections, with 83% attaining top grades of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Whichever way you look at it, the planned CQC fee rise is unacceptable, unreasonable and unjustified.

‘The impact is probably greater on practices than any other NHS organisation, as there are no other organisations where the clinicians are directly paying for the CQC bureaucracy and over-regulation. And when the outcome and expense of inspections just tells practices what they already know and what patients have been saying for years - that 85% of practices are "good" or "outstanding".

‘At a time when every penny counts in the NHS, the government should be cutting the £40m budget spent on unnecessary CQC general practice regulation, not loading it on to the shoulders of GPs and risking making the GP retention crisis worse as a result.’

The proposed fee hike will take place incrementally over either two or four years, seeing costs for GP practices increase seven-fold – a far larger increase than any other provider.

The watchdog said the fee increase was necessary to ensure that its full chargeable costs were paid for by providers.

Launching the consultation on fee increases, CQC chief executive David Behan said: ‘Our commitment is to make sure that people receive safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care and we can see that our new inspection model is allowing us to support providers to do exactly that.

'The fees providers pay enables this important work to happen. We are required to move to full cost recovery and are consulting on how we do this.'

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