The requirement for GP practices to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been put back one year to April 2013, the CQC has confirmed today (12 August 2011).
A spokesman said: "The registration of GP practices by the CQC will now take place by April 2013. Out-of-hours providers that are not GP practices looking after their own patients will be required to register with CQC by April 2012.
"These decisions have been made after discussions with the CQC and a public consultation when 96% of respondents supported the proposal to delay the registration of GP practices by a year.
"This will enable the CQC time to focus on its core business of providing assurance of safety and quality for patients."
Originally practices were told that they had to register with the CQC – the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England – by April 2012.
The requirement for GP practices to register with the CQC has been opposed by the British Medical Association. Dr Laurence Buckman, Chair of the BMA's GPs' Committee, said this was "complex, burdensome and costly" at the LMC conference in June.
More recently Dr Buckman said: "We have asked all along: what is the added value of CQC? I understand what it does for nursing homes but what does it do for GPs? What do we get for our money?"
Dr Buckman added: "What is it CQC are offering to general practice? How is it that this money will be spent? How will the nation's health be improved by it? I think the answer is not. I think this offers nothing. I hope CQC will be allowed by legislation to revise what they look for in primary care providers."
However, he also welcomed the decision to delay registration. "Well, first of all nobody has to do anything now and secondly it gives the CQC the opportunity to review what it's trying to do and simplify it," he said.
A CQC spokesperson told NIP in May, when proposals to seek the delay were first suggested, that the later deadline would allow more time to embed compliance monitoring in the sectors it already regulates and to make sure registration is more closely aligned with accreditation schemes.
"We want to lighten any potential burden and ensure that we add as little extra work as we can onto GPs," the CQC spokesperson said.