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BMA: Small practices will close if “merciless” CQC fees increase

21 January 2016

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The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) “inexplicable” planned fee increases will “likely lead to many small practice closures with potentially catastrophic knock on effects for patients”, the British Medical Association (BMA) have argued in an uncompromising letter.

“As the sole provider of system regulation and consequently with a monopoly and captive market, the CQC is an increasingly bloated bureaucracy with little focus on value for money or analysis of the real performance indicators linking cost to quality outcomes,” Raj Jethwa, BMA head of public health and healthcare delivery told the regulator.

This comes after the CQC released the proposed changes last November, which mean that single-location GPs with 5,001-10,000 patients would see a sevenfold rise from £725 to £4,839 in two years.

The fee rises will also “mercilessly raid a budget purportedly ring-fenced for frontline services”, meaning that patient care will suffer, Jethwa said.

Furthermore, there’s a lack of justification for the rises, especially as the CQC are “supposed to be scaling down an inspection regime that has been beset with by setbacks and failures,” he added.

Last month, The CQC was rated as “not yet an effective regulator” and “behind where it should be,” according to an inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The main concerns were staff shortages, accuracy in draft reports, and the speed of response to issues raised by whistleblowers.

The BMA are now calling on the CQC to demonstrate how the fee increases meet the principles of good regulations: proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting – rather than a crude and costly one-size fits all approach.