GP practices have yet to claim millions of pounds in CQC fees from the past year, our sister publication Pulse understands.
Only 3,553 GP practices in England were reimbursed for their CQC fees in 2017/18, a freedom of information request submitted by a practice to NHS England has revealed.
Our sister publication Pulse, where this story was first published, estimates that at least £18m in fees have not yet been claimed across the remaining 3,808 practices in England. This is based on an average size practice paying around £2,500 in annual CQC fees in 2017/18.
CQC fees have proved controversial in the past, with changes in legislation leading to huge increase in the charges.
In 2017, the BMA’s GP Committee announced practices would have their full CQC fees paid back for the first time through a system of direct reimbursement to ‘prevent reductions in practice resources’, it said.
Lancashire-based GP partner Dr Russell Thorpe submitted the FOI request to NHS England after concerns were raised at his own practice about not having claimed the money.
Dr Thorpe, from the Old Links Surgery, said many GPs might not be aware they are able to get their CQC fees paid back.
He said: ‘I think it’s something you don’t remember to do. It was our medical accountants who pointed it out, when they did the accounts. We’re among the smallest practices and our fee was nearly £4,000.
’On the face of it, it looks like a lot of my colleagues were in the same boat I was in and are owed a lot of money.’
GPC regional representative for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Dr Peter Holden said there was an ‘urgent need’ for GPs and practice managers to receive business training.
He said: ’Many GPs simply don’t know the rules. But I think the real problem we’re faced with is, unlike pre 2014 – when there was one body you went to, to claim income items – there are now many different bodies where you claim income items from and it requires a good manager to keep on top of for different income sources.
‘There is a very urgent need for business education for GPs and their practice managers. When I became a GP 30 years ago, we had compulsory business training weeks on the vocational training scheme. But as far as I’m aware they don’t exist anymore and they ought to.’
Practices can claim back CQC fees retrospectively, according to the GMS Statement of Financial Entitlements 2017.
The document states payments to a contractor must not be made ‘unless an invoice or other suitable evidence of payment has been presented to it by the contractor as evidence of the amount which the contractor has paid to the Care Quality Commission in respect of CQC registration fees in any year’.
‘Payments under this section must be made by the board to a contractor as part of the next global sum monthly payment which falls due to the contractor following the date on which the board receives evidence, in accordance with Section 20B.1(3), of the amount that the contractor has paid by way of CQC registration fees,’ it adds.
A BMA spokesperson told Pulse that although no time limit is stipulated, six years is the default time limit for any contractual payments.
NHS England did not wish to comment.
Pulse reported last year that practices with larger patient lists were set to see a CQC fee increase from April 2018, while smaller GP providers were due to have a reduction in fees.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.