The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) proposed increases in the fees levied on care homes are disproportionate and unjustified in light of the current financial challenges affecting the adult social care sector, says the Registered Nursing Home Association.
The RNHA, which represents nearly 1,000 care homes across the country, is calling on the CQC to reconsider both the scale and speed of what the association calls ‘a misguided and potentially damaging fees hike’.
Commented RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “In the current year care homes have already suffered a 9% increase in the fees charged by the CQC. Now we are being asked whether we would prefer a 14% increase next year and the year after, or to have the increases phased in over four years instead. In other words, do we want all the pain up front or do we want it spread out a bit longer?
“Frustratingly, we are not being asked whether we think the increases should be imposed at all or whether the quality of the work being undertaken by the CQC merits the imposition of such big increases.
“Our answer is ‘no’ in both instances. Draconian government cutbacks mean that we are already struggling with reductions in the fees paid to us by some local councils for looking after publicly funded residents. Or, in many other cases, we have experienced a freeze on those fees. Despite these significant financial setbacks, the CQC want us to pay them a lot more for regulating and inspecting what we do. Something does not add up somewhere. We are being hammered on two fronts simultaneously”
He added: “We know that the CQC are dancing to the government’s tune in trying to make care providers pay more towards inspection costs. Our message to the government – and to the CQC – is that you cannot expect us to raise standards of care whilst being hit on the one hand by real terms reductions in the fees we receive for that care and on the other hand by increases in inspection costs.
“Besides, the CQC’s own consultation document admits that compared with NHS organisations care home providers are already paying a much higher percentage of the full cost of regulating and inspecting their services. It is time for both the government and the CQC to give us all a break.”