Revealed: How CQC registration is running over budget and has failed dozens of dental practices

By Andrew McNicoll | 20 Jan 2012

Exclusive: More than 30 dental practices and an unknown number of private GP practices have failed to secure registration with the Care Quality Commission, in the first sign that regulation by the new body is prompting some providers to shut down.

The figures for those failing to register, revealed to Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act, come as the regulator also admitted that shifting registration to a new online system will push the total cost £5.5m beyond its initial budget.

The CQC has previously played down fears that its registration process would lead to the closure of providers, publically stating last June that ‘we have not closed down any dental practices' and reassuring GPs earlier this month that surgeries would not be closed over not having disabled access.

But the regulator disclosed this week that 36 of the country's 8,232 dental providers have not completed registration, with some subsequently closing. A further 68 dentists have been identified as ‘potentially unregistered providers' by the CQC and could face prosecution if they are found to continue operating.

The CQC said: '27 providers have not secured registration with the Commission and have either ceased providing a service or are subject to our unregistered services policy. The remaining nine require specific information to allow their registration to be concluded.'

However the CQC was unable to say how many private GP practices had failed registration because of a ‘temporary technical problem'.

Dr Jack Edmonds, chair of the Independent Doctors Federation and a GP in Harley Street, London, said the IDF had held ‘amicable talks' with the CQC but warned that the regulator's inability to provide data on the number of private practices failing registration was symptomatic of a wider issue.

He said: ‘The law requires us doctors to be open, transparent and have evidence that backs up what we tell the CQC. We have to jump through a number of hoops.'

‘You want us to be transparent? Well, you should be transparent. It is a matter of fairness. The IDF would like to help the CQC if they are having problems – we don't know if they are as they have not shared any information with us.'

The CQC also revealed for the first time the likely cost of the registration process, which was budgeted at £29.1m. It has spent £25m on registration of all providers so far, and expects to spend a further £3m on NHS GP registration – but also now expects to plough a further £6.5m into IT to support its registration programme that it did not originally budget for.

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association and a GP in Swindon, expressed concern at the overspend and insisted any additional costs run up by the CQC should not be passed on to GPs.

‘The cost of CQC is a very sensitive issue for GPs. To be asked for a lot of money for something with no merit in it for general practice is a big ask.'

A CQC spokesperson said: ‘We are projected to be within budget for initial registration of all providers, with a projected spend of £28 million against a budget of £29.1 million. The additional £6 million is for the development of an online service that will simplify 'business as usual' processes for all providers - for example applying to change the status of their registration. GPs will also benefit from this as they will be able to carry out their initial registration online.'

The cost of the CQC

£29.1m – Original CQC budget for registration
£25m – Cost of registering dentists, social care providers, private GPs and others so far
£3m – Estimated cost of registering NHS GPs
£6.5m – Additional unbudgeted cost of shifting ‘registration and regulation' to an online system.

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