Seven-fold CQC fee hike would be 'feasting on the bones of general practice', warn GPs

The Family Doctor Association (FDA) has urged the CQC to withdraw 'unacceptable and unjustifiable' plans for a seven-fold increase in GP fees, warning that funding is already so tight in primary care that the watchdog would be 'feasting on the bones of general practice'.

Dr Peter Swinyard: CQC must reverse fee hike for GPs, says Family Doctor Association chairman

The CQC consultation asking practices whether compulsory fees should rise seven-fold over two or four years is similar to asking whether ‘you would prefer to be hanged or shot’, the FDA said.

The watchdog has said its fees must go up because of government rules demanding that regulators recover ‘full chargeable costs’ from organisations they oversee. The CQC currently relies on grant-in-aid from the DH for almost half of the £224m a year it spends on its registration functions.

Plans set out by the CQC would see fees for GP practices rise almost seven-fold over either two or four years. NHS trust fees are set to triple and community social care fees will rise four-fold over the same period. All other providers apart from dentists will see smaller increases.

The FDA said the CQC should ‘accept that they have to live within their means’ and ‘stop putting our money where their mouth is’.

Map: CQC GP ratings

It added that the rise in costs will ‘bleed away money which would have been used to deliver patient services’.

FDA chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said: 'There is a famine of resources in general practice. The resources for caring for patients have been rising at a much slower rate than the cost of providing that care and there is no fat left in the system for efficiency savings. The fatted lamb cannot be killed to allow the CQC to feast on the bones of general practice.'

David Behan, CQC chief executive, said: ‘We are required to move to full cost recovery and are consulting on how we do this. We recognise the financial pressures faced by many providers, and do not underestimate the impact of any changes to their fees. We developed our proposals with an expert panel; including representatives from the providers we regulate.

‘We are committed to ensuring that we continue to monitor the costs of our regulatory work closely, as well as seek to improve our efficiency, evaluate our effectiveness and demonstrate the value of our approach to the public, as taxpayers and as people who use services, and to the sectors we regulate.’

Photo: JH Lancy

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