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Health watchdog ‘must demonstrate value for money’

‘Goodwill lost’ over fees hike, warn commissioners

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 08 December 2016

Heath watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, needs to demonstrate it is delivering value for money.

This is the message from NHS providers and commissioners’ organisation the NHS Confederation. In written evidence to the Health Select Committee’s accountability hearing with the CQC, taking place this week, the NHS Confederation suggests “the regulator’s steep increase” in regulatory fees from April 2017 lies at odds with the move towards more light-touch inspections.

“It is disappointing to see only a modest reduction in operating income being planned by the CQC up to 2020/21, after the commitment in its strategy that it would move towards a more light-touch approach to regulation and inspection,” the Confederation’s evidence says. 

“We would expect this to cost less due to the reduction in the number of comprehensive inspections taking place. We are concerned that the CQC has yet to robustly evaluate the cost of inspections for NHS providers.”

In 2017/18, fees for foundation trusts and NHS trusts are set to increase by 48%.

In its written evidence, the CQC stated: “We are working to ensure we are able to regulate provider organisations as efficiently and effectively as possible, matching our processes to new models of care as they emerge, and as the Five Year Forward View and sustainability and transformation plans are implemented.”  

However, the NHS Confederation says the fee increase will jeopardise goodwill.

“The CQC must demonstrate that it is delivering value for money if it is to retain credibility with our members, particularly as the regulator will soon start to assess providers’ use of resources.”

A NHS Confederation spokesperson said: “The steep and sudden increase in fees seriously risks jeopardising the goodwill of the Confed’s provider members towards the new approach to inspections.”

In addition, the Confederation questioned the CQC’s rating system. 

“The NHS Confederation remains concerned about elements of the CQC’s ratings system. In particular, the concept of a single rating for a complex provider delivering a significant range of services, which we argue could be almost meaningless.”

The Health Committee’s oral evidence session opened yesterday. 

A CQC spokesman, said the CQC would publish its five-year strategy till 2021 in August. This sets out the Commissions plans “to become a more intelligence-driven, responsive and efficient regulator”.

Consultations on some of these proposals will begin next month. 

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