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Care England is the latest professional organisation and the largest representative body for independent care providers to speak out about the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) decision to increase provider fees from April 2016.
The regulator announced its plans to increase fees at a time when providers are already struggling with financial difficulties out of their control. These include reducing local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) fees, increasing costs across the sector and the new National Living Wage, in addition to the ever increasing difficulty in recruiting and maintaining care and support staff.
The chief executive of Care England, Professor Martin Green commented: “As a member of the CQC Fees Advisory Panel, Care England made its views clear about increasing fee rates for providers.
“Fee rates of this magnitude are neither fair nor proportionate. That the Department of Health has seen fit to give GPs additional funding to mitigate the increased fees is grossly unfair to the care sector that is largely publicly funded and on which thousands of people rely, and which is the bedrock for an efficient and effective NHS.”
Furthermore, Care England has taken issue with the principle of full cost recovery which if applicable to the regulator should also be applicable to providers who should receive fees from local authorities and CCG’s that meet the costs of providing the care. Currently, CQC fee rises will not be able to be recovered from public sector commissioners.
Speaking about the decision to raise fees, David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, commented: “We understand that the scheme that has been put forward is not the one the majority of those who took part in our consultation would have preferred. In order to achieve our requirement to the Government and commitment to the taxpayer, we need to work towards reaching full cost recovery while reducing our overall budget by at least £32m.
“The fee paid by providers is the charge for entering and remaining in a regulated sector. The public deserves nothing less than safe, high-quality and compassionate health and adult social care, and we must continue to act in their best interests.”
’One law for bureaucrats and one law for care providers’
Last week, the chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA), Frank Ursell expressed his disappointment at the CQC’s decision to raise fees for regulators.
He said: “The CQC ran a consultation to ask whether we would prefer a fee increase phased in over two or four years – pain sooner rather than later or pain a bit more spread out. We opted for the latter. Instead, the CQC has ignored what we said and imposed a hefty increase straight away. So much for consultation.”
“To make matters worse, the increase we are having to absorb from the CQC is far above the rate of inflation and comes on top of the 7.5 per cent we are obliged to find to meet the cost of the new National Living Wage and the one per cent pension contribution we have to make towards the new auto-enrolled staff pensions. So the CQC fee hike couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“To compound it, we have local authorities wringing their hands and telling us not to expect anything above around a two per cent increase, if we are very lucky, in the amounts they are willing to pay for the publicly funded residents we care for on their behalf. It sometimes feels as though the CQC are happy to hammer us about standards whilst not acknowledging the financial pressures to which we are relentlessly subjected by national and local Government.”
Mr Ursell continued: “Ironically, the CQC claims it is having to impose pain on us because its own grants from the Government are being cut. Yet no allowance is made by the CQC for our financial problems. One law for the bureaucrats and one law for the care providers.”
Mr Green added: “As with the responses from the last 2015/16 fees consultation, we do not feel that our voice has been heard. The decision to increase fees over two years instead of four years goes against the majority of responses to the consultation and we question the point of consultations in this case."
For more information on the changes to fees, visit: http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/changes-regulatory-fees