Mid Mersey LMC medical secretary Dr Ivan Camphor said CQC registration would be a ‘really big issue’ at the LMC secretaries’ conference on 30 November, and could yet trigger a debate about industrial action.
The CQC revealed last week inspections would take place every two years and that practices would be given 48 hours notice of visits.
Dr Camphor said CQC registration provided no benefits for GP practices and was an additional cost at a time when practices were facing cuts. A CQC consultation suggests practices will face annual fees of up to £1,600.
He said GPs were so angry about having to register with the CQC that they may even consider industrial action. ‘We did have a national day of action over pension reforms. We could see the same sort of thing if the feeling is still strong in the next few months,’ he said.
GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden described CQC registration and its accompanying fee as ‘unacceptable’.
He said: ‘I am not allowed to encourage people to take industrial action however many doctors have reported to me that they want the concept of mass non-compliance in one or two areas to be considered.’
However GPC contracts and regulation subcommittee chairman and Cleveland LMC secretary Dr John Canning said it was unlikely GPs would risk breaking the law by failing to register with the CQC. ‘The law says you have to register with the CQC. I’d rather it didn’t but it’s a fact. I think that we have to live with that fact.’
Dr Canning said he thought it would be changes to the GMS contract that could force GPs to take action. He said: ‘I’m not convinced that there is a huge appetite among GPs to take industrial action. But there comes a point when people will say no.’
Manchester LMC honorary secretary Dr John Hughes said that GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman’s speech at the start of Friday's meeting could spark discussion around contract changes. Dr Hughes said: ‘He will be discussing the proposed [contract] imposition and what GPs might want to think about doing if such an imposition occurs.’
Dr Hughes said one option open to GPs could be to boycott commissioning work. ‘I think it would not be a good idea, a lot of people have a lot of time invested in commissioning. But if we are forced with our backs against the wall then we have to be realistic about what we can and can’t do.’
Dr Hughes said that apart from withdrawing from commissioning, GPs might decide to stop doing additional work such as sick notes and insurance reports.
However he said it would be difficult for the GPC to make a decision on future action without more detail the contract changes. ‘If we’re going to fight a battle we need to know what we’re fighting on,’ he said.
Somerset LMC medical secretary Dr Harry Yoxall agreed that at a time of squeezed budgets and increased workload ‘practices will say the most important thing for them to do is provide their core contracted services to patients.’
‘I think that’s probably the mood most secretaries will be reflecting,’ he said.