GPC concerned over CQC fees for practices

Care Quality Commission (CQC) registration plans could have 'devastating' impact on branch surgeries, the GPC has warned.

Dr Vautrey: CQC registration plans could endanger small branch practices
Dr Vautrey: CQC registration plans could endanger small branch practices

Suggestions that the watchdog could charge a registration fee per practice branch would hit rural practices with many branches hardest, the GPC said.

Meanwhile, legal experts have warned that GPs run the risk of being closed down, imprisoned or fined up to £50,000 due to ‘apathy’ surrounding the forthcoming regulation.

GP practices in England will have to register with the watchdog from April 2012. Although plans for general practice are yet to be finalised, documents released last month suggested GP fees could follow those of dentists’, proposed at £1,500 per dental practice.

The GPC is concerned that, under the plans, 10 GPs in a one-branch practice could pay one fee, while 10 GPs spread across many small branches would pay 10 fees.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned that this could endanger small branch practices: ‘If the proposals for dentists are mirrored in general practice, small branch practices would come under huge pressure.'

He added: ‘This would potentially put branches in jeopardy. We need to be open with CQC about this impact.’

Legal firm Veale Wasbrough Vizards has said GPs need to be preparing for the change now to avoid falling foul of the CQC's tough sanctions.

Derek Bellow, a consultant with the firm, said: ‘GPs read about this, but are just apathetic about it as if it is something that will happen to someone else.’

Tabitha Cave, head of Veale Wasbrough Vizards's regulatory team, added: 'GPs need to deal with it now. This is not something that will go away.'

She warns that unless practices can prove they meet a raft of criteria relating to issues such as information sharing and patient involvement they face tough sanctions for failing to comply with the regulations.

This could include prosecution and a fine of up to £50,000. Fixed penalty notices can also be handed out and courts can impose a prison sentence on GPs that fail to register.

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