The fees NHS trusts pay to the Care Quality Commission could be hiked by as much as 75 per cent next year.

  • Trust fees could rise by 75pc next year and GP fees could increase almost sevenfold by 2017-18
  • CQC justifies fee hikes as move to “full cost recovery”
  • DH will make up to £15m available to GPs to help mitigate the impact for the first year
  • NHS Confederation chief warns goodwill towards new inspection regime could be “jeopardised”

GP practices could also see a sevenfold rise in their fees over two years, as the watchdog moves towards fully recovering its costs from those it regulates.

David Behan

David Behan said the CQC does ‘not underestimate the impact’ on providers of changing their fees

In a consultation document published today, the regulator outlines two scenarios for future provider fees. The payments help fund the running of the CQC.

In the first scenario, where the CQC moves to “full cost recovery” over just two years, an NHS trust with a turnover of £125m-£225m would see its fee rise from £78,208 this year, to £136,864 in 2016-17 – a 75 per cent increase. The fee would then increase to £215,835 in 2017-18 – this would be a 176 per cent increase on the 2015-16 fees.

Under the more conservative scenario the same trust would see its fee rise by 40 per cent next year to £109,491. The fee would still eventually rise to £215,835 but the increase would be staggered over four years.

The proposed increases are even larger for primary care.

Under the more bullish scenario, a single location GP practice with a registered list of 5,000-10,000 patients would see its fee rise from £725 in 2015-16 to £2,574 next year – a 255 per cent increase.

By 2017-18 the practice would have seen their fees increase nearly sevenfold on the 2015-16 figure, to £4,839.

The proposed hikes come after a 9 per cent fee increase in 2015-16.

Like all public bodies with fee setting powers, the CQC is expected to follow government policy by charging fees that over time will cover the full costs of its “chargeable activities”.

In its consultation document, the CQC said the proposed increases were large because in recent years the cost of regulation had outstripped fee hikes, with the result that “cost recovery levels fell”.

The CQC’s new model, which involves inspection by beefed up, clinically led teams, was instead paid for by significant increases in the regulator’s grant from the government.

However, this month’s spending review is likely to result in the CQC’s grant being cut. The regulator has been asked to model a 40 per cent reduction to its central government funding.

Provider bodies immediately raised concerns about the proposed fee hikes.

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said a 40 per cent increase would “add a considerable burden to trusts”.

“The goodwill of providers towards CQC and its new approach to inspections could be jeopardised by this fee increase,” he added.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said the options represented “a significant increase for [members]” when they were facing “unprecedented pressure”.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: “We are required to move to full cost recovery and are consulting on how we do this.

“We recognise the financial pressures faced by many providers, and do not underestimate the impact of any changes to their fees.”

The Department of Health has said it will make up to £15m available to GPs to help mitigate the impact of any fee increase next year. However it has not indicated whether this support will continue as the fees rise in future years.

The CQC’s consultation runs until 15 January.