The CQC is charging GP practices the normal amount for its regulatory procedures, despite routine inspections not currently taking place.
GP practices have been able to claim back their CQC fee expenses from NHS England since the 2017/18 GP contract, although Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse, revealed last year that millions of pounds remained unclaimed.
The CQC’s annual registration fees are set in advance, meaning that the 2020/21 levels would have been decided prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, despite this, LMCs feel that finances should reflect the disruption of this year.
Routine inspections are not due to recommence until autumn, with plans underway for higher-risk GP practices to be inspected from this summer.
The CQC explained how this year has seen new additions, such as its emergency support framework, as well as the fact that inspections are just one part of its regulation activities.
Whilst there is sympathy for the rationale in costs remaining unchanged, LMCs are unhappy with the way the process is being implemented.
Dr Dean Eggitt, chief executive of Doncaster LMC, told Pulse: ‘I understand that CQC have their bills to pay, but to charge general practice for a service that is not being delivered is unacceptable.
‘Clearly, the CQC need to refund this charge to practices and to reduce their overheard costs by other means. If they cannot afford to do so, then they should risk bankruptcy just like general practice would have to. If they do not suffer the consequences of their practices, they will never learn from their mistakes.’
Similarly, Dr Rob Barnett, secretary at Liverpool LMC, said: ‘Since routine inspections haven’t been taking place, we would expect the CQC’s running costs to decrease, with reduced charges next year.
‘Charges should reflect costs – but of course, people at the CQC need to be paid too and we wouldn’t want them to lose their jobs. We would hope GPs would look upon the CQC as they would any other business in these difficult circumstances, where millions risk unemployment.’
Senior GPs, including Professor Clare Gerada, have requested that the CQC defers inspections for at least another year, while the BMA and the RCGP have both argued that bureaucracy related to inspections must be reduced for the longer term.