Practices to pay to register with Care Quality Commission

All GP practices will be charged an annual fee to fund the cost of registration with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) from 2012.

Dr Richard Vautrey

The body will consult on the annual payments, but a spokesman confirmed that the CQC was aiming to ‘cover all [registration] costs from fee income'. The charges come despite the watchdog already enjoying a substantial funding, with an operational budget of £166.8m for 2009/10.

CQC director of registration, Dr Linda Hutchinson, said registering the 8,500 GP practices in England would be ‘an enormous logistical task' and was difficult to cost.

 ‘There will be an annual fee but we don't know how much - hopefully it will reflect activity. We've struggled to assess costings of even [the registering of] the trusts let alone all the other bodies,' said Dr Hutchinson.

From April 2011 GP practices, alongside all other health and social care organisations, will be required to meet 16 essential standards of quality and safety as part of the CQC's registration system.

The body will have the power to suspend registration in poorly performing practices until issues are resolved.

GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the CQC was looking for the profession to fund something that should be paid for by the taxpayer.

 Asked whether GPs could simply boycott the payment, Dr Vautrey said: ‘The problem is they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea — they will really have no choice.

‘The registration will be a statutory requirement and GPs' livelihoods will depend on it.'

Dr Vautrey said that current mechanisms used to reimburse GPs for GMC and the cost of fees paid to defence unions could be explored.

In August GP revealed that the DoH will not fund revalidation annually, prompting concerns the profession will also bear the costs of that.

Editor's blog: Do GPs 'basically have to kill someone' before their contracts can be terminated?

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