The Care Quality Commission has warned of spending review ‘implications’ for the delivery of its 2016-17 inspection programme, after being asked to model cuts to its central government funding of up to 40 per cent.

  • CQC chief warns that spending review will have “implications” for delivery of next year’s inspection programme
  • David Behan says CQC has been asked to model funding cuts of 25 and 40 per cent
  • Regulator advised to defer discussion of 2016-17 inspection plan delivery until after spending review
  • News comes after warnings that Treasury may redefine the ringfence on NHS spending to exclude some arm’s length bodies

CQC chief executive David Behan issued the warning in a paper to its board meeting this week, in which he proposed deferring discussion of the inspection plan until after the 25 November spending review.

As HSJ reported last month, the CQC is already set to miss its deadline to inspect all adult social care, GPs and out of hours services in England by 30 September next year.

However, Mr Behan’s latest board report states: “The implications for delivering the [inspection] plan in 2016-17 depend on finalisation of the spending review, CQC receiving a budget allocation for 2016-17, and final agreement on fees for 2016-17.

David Behan

Delivering the CQC inspection plan for 2016-17 depends on the spending review, David Behan said

“No decisions have been made on these three important influences so I propose that discussing the programme for 2016-17 is deferred until such time it is clear what the decision is in respect of these three issues.”

The report adds: “Undoubtedly, with CQC being asked to consider 25 per cent and 40 per cent reduction in ‘grant in aid’ there will be implications.”

Grant in aid is the funding the CQC receives directly from the government, with the rest of its budget coming from fees charged to regulated providers.

Last month HSJ reported that Treasury officials were looking at redefining the ringfence on NHS spending to apply only to NHS England’s commissioning budgets. This would exclude a number of other Department of Health budgets from the government commitment to £8bn real terms growth over the Parliament, including those of its other arm’s length bodies.

In July the Treasury asked unprotected Whitehall departments to model the impact of 25 and 40 per cent cuts to their budgets.

The CQC paper indicates that DH arm’s length bodies have also been asked to model cutbacks on this scale.

The CQC’s grant in aid is currently £120m, so a 25 per cent reduction would represent a £30m budget cut. A 40 per cent reduction would amount to a £48m cut.

Either scenario would represent a significant reversal of the CQC’s recent financial fortunes. 

The CQC’s grant increased by about a third in 2013-14 and by another 50 per cent in 2014-15 to pay for its beefed up inspection regime. The grant did not rise this year.

A CQC spokeswoman said: “All government departments have been asked to model scenarios of 25 per cent and 40 per cent of savings from their grant in aid by 2019-20 in real terms.

“In line with this, the CQC is undertaking an exercise to consider possible implications ahead of the upcoming comprehensive spending review.”

Meanwhile, separately, the CQC today issued a statement admitting it may not hit its deadlines for inspecting adult social care, general practice, out of hours primary care and independent health services.

Mr Behan said: “Our productivity is increasing as we recruit more inspectors but we are highlighting this possible risk to delivery now and planning in an open and transparent way as to how we can address this.”

He said it was important that inspectors are “trained, supported, and have the appropriate time to carry out high quality inspections”, and that the CQC would “never compromise on the quality of the work we have to do”.