To avoid paying the increased regulatory fees to CQC, the Derbyshire Local Medical Committee has suggested GPs should pay their regulatory fees to the GMC. It is suggested that this money would then be held in an account which can be accessed following due consideration of a formal complaint about the fee increase which could be lodged. To completely refuse to pay regulatory fees to CQC would invariably mean that a provider would be operating illegally.
The fee increases for the GP sector in particular represent a sharp increase designed to move CQC towards being fully paid for by the providers that it regulates. CQC consulted the sector on stretching out the schedule towards full cost recovery between 5 years and two and opted eventually for the two year strategy. For 2017/18 in particular, GP’s fees are expected to rise by 76% (£16.2m) in one year.
Some will see the consultation on regulatory fees for 2017/18 as paying little more than lip service to the consultation process as CQC pressed ahead with the first stage of the two year plan despite objections being made. The consultation closes on 11 January 2017.
GP surgeries have been assisted with payments in the past by the Department of Health. It is expected that the Department of Health will reimburse GP surgeries once again this year. Whilst it appears unlikely that the novel thinking of Derbyshire LMC will gather steam outside of its locality, it is clearly demonstrative of the growing sentiment against the increasing regulatory burden, financially and otherwise, placed on GP practices by the CQC. Some view the regulator as less of an enabler and more of a hindrance to excellent service delivery.