• CQC’s greater reliance on fees will mean “becoming more accountable”, says chief executive
  • David Behan says CQC is in a similar financial position to many of the organisations it regulates
  • Providers “will expect us to demonstrate value for money”

Increasing the share of the Care Quality Commission’s funding made up by fees will make it “more accountable” to providers, the chief executive of the regulator has said.

David Behan told HSJ that a key focus of the CQC’s strategy over the next five years would be on becoming “more efficient and more effective” so it could “demonstrate value for money” to the organisations it regulates.

David Behan

David Behan

The CQC must ‘become more efficient and more effective’, David Behan told HSJ

The regulator has been told by the Department of Health to plan for a 25 per cent cut in its grant over the next four years. This would equate to a £30m budget cut, leaving the CQC with a total budget of £217m by 2019-2020.

At the same time, the CQC is expected to follow a government policy requiring public bodies with fee setting powers to charge fees that will cover the full costs of their “chargeable activities”.

This move to “full cost recovery” would mean a big shift in the composition of the CQC’s funding, which is currently split about 50/50 between fees and direct government funding. It would also result in big fee hikes for providers, with trusts potentially experiencing a 75 per cent fee increase and some GP practices a receiving sevenfold rise by 2017-18.

Mr Behan said the cut to the CQC’s budget meant it was in a similar financial position to many of the providers it regulates.

“We’re going through exactly what other organisations, particularly in adult social care are going through, with a real terms reduction in the resource they’ve got available.

“So in a sense we understand what they’re going through, we’re not in a privileged position.”

He said the CQC’s greater reliance on fees would result in it “becoming more accountable” to providers.

“It does change the nature of the conversations that we will have. I expect the sector to expect us to demonstrate value for money for the way that we provide a regulation system, which is why in [the [CQC’s new strategy consultation, launched today] we talk a lot about how we need to become more efficient and more effective,” he said.

During a recent Commons public accounts committee session on the CQC, MP Stephen Philipps said it would be a “disaster” to cut its budget when it was behind in its inspection schedule and about to take on a new duty for assessing trusts’ use of resources.

Mr Behan said he had enough resources to do the job while ensuring the public had “confidence in the judgments that we make”.

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