NHS organisations and providers are set to be hit with regulation fees for the first time, HSJ has learned.

The Future Regulation of Health and Adult Social Care in England says the new regulator Ofcare will be able to charge fees for registering providers.

Ofcare will replace the Healthcare Commission, which charges for registration of independent providers, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which also charges registration fees, and the Mental Health Act Commission.

The document states: 'Ofcare will be able to charge fees for registering providers. NHS providers will be part of the same regulatory regime as other providers of health and social care. To ensure a fair playing field, existing NHS providers will be brought into the new registration regime and future NHS providers will be required to register.'

'Fair approach'

It adds that the registration regime will be proportionally and flexibly applied, depending on the size and type of provider, to ensure it is fair.

The document says the registration format will allow action to be taken against component parts of a provider without compromising its ability to deliver other services.

The fees mark Ofcare out from similar organisations such as Ofsted, Ofcom and Ofwat, which have no such system.

First steps

The first wave of providers that will need to be registered to offer health or adult social care are providers of acute and community care; mental health and learning disability services; domiciliary care agencies; care homes (including those providing nursing); adult placement schemes and nursing agencies.

Foundation trusts and those aspiring to foundation status will need to register and maintain their registration. The health secretary will be able to amend the scope of registration.

The document says: 'The government will consider bringing primary medical care within the remit of Ofcare in future but only after consulting more widely.'

It also details how transition will be achieved, saying the DoH is committed to establishing the new regulator in October 2008, subject to legislation, and that it will commence full operations in April 2009.