GPs should not bear cost of CQC fee hike, says GPC

The DH must commit to funding in full the cost of a proposed seven-fold increase in CQC fees for GP practices that could take effect in the coming years, GP leaders have said.

Dr Richard Vautrey: CQC fee rise could increase financial burden for GPs
Dr Richard Vautrey: CQC fee rise could increase financial burden for GPs

A DH consultation launched on Monday could pave the way for the watchdog to increase its fees by broadening the scope of work it can charge practices for.

The move came just a month after the CQC published a separate consultation setting out plans to increase fees for a GP practice with 5,000-10,000 registered patients that operates at one location from £725 to £4,839. The CQC plans to implement the fee hike over two years - by 2017/18 - or over four years.

The DH consultation document says: 'NHS trusts and GPs are ultimately funded by the DH. This means that any increase in the CQC fees on these providers would be met by the DH.'

DH funding commitment

But a spokeswoman confirmed this was not a commitment to provide extra funding to trusts or GP practices to cover the costs of increased fees.

Although the government has pledged £15m to cover rising GP practice costs including fees in 2016/17 - worth around £2,000 per average practice - this is a one-year payment and no plans to continue or increase this payment in future years have been made.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'There is a risk that this could lead to an even greater financial burden being placed on the shoulders of GPs.

'The suggestion that GPs are funded by the DH is only true if the costs of CQC inspection are fully funded through expenses, and in recent years that's not been seen to be true for practices who have seen expenses costs rise far in excess of the limited amount provided through DH limited DDRB awards. For GPs to have any confidence that the future will be different, DH must commit to full reimbursement of the CQC fee rise for practices.'

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