Proposals to increase the CQC fees for regulating NHS providers will represent a “merciless raid of a purportedly ring-fenced budget”, the BMA has said in response to the inspectorate’s consultation.
The association called the CQC an “increasingly bloated bureaucracy with little focus on value for money or analysis of the real performance indicators linking cost to quality outcomes”. It also argued that because it is the only system regulator, the body automatically has a monopoly and a captive market.
The swollen fees, put forward for consultation in November, could nearly treble by 2017-18, with some GPs paying nearly seven times as much as they do now.
Dr Mark Porter, the BMA’s chair of council, said alongside publishing the union’s response document: “This is a cynical set of proposals that will force parts of the NHS to hand over large chunks of their budgets to the CQC without any evidence of a positive benefit to patients.
“This comes at a time when the NHS is under unprecedented pressure, trying to find the 2-3% efficiency savings demanded by the government while attempting to cope with increasing patient demand on inadequate funding and staffing levels.”
Porter argued that in no part of the consultation did the CQC explain why these “ridiculous rises” were needed, especially when it should be “scaling down an inspection regime that has been beset by setbacks and failures”.
“Only last year, the CQC had to abandon part of its programme which judged GP practices before inspectors even walked through the surgery’s doors,” he added.
“Everyone in the medical profession wants an effective regulatory system that maintains patient safety, but this will not be achieved by these flawed proposals. The CQC need to put a halt to this process and put forward a genuine consultation that leads to a cost effective system that is value for money for the taxpayer.”
Much of the BMA’s views were echoed by the NHS Clinical Commissioners’ own response to the consultation, which said increasing the fees would place extra burden on overworked GPs despite the CQC not yet having proved its value for money.
When the CQC put forward intentions to up its fees, all of its directorates were behind hitting their inspection targets, and the organisation could not yet guarantee it would deliver its 2016-17 programme. The Commons Public Accounts Committee soon also established that the body had yet to provide it could deliver value for money.