The BMA is ‘in talks’ around the future of QOF payments for the remainder of 2020/21, indicating that the payments may not be protected as some practices believe, our sister publication, Pulse, has learned.
At the beginning of the pandemic, QOF recording was suspended with practices told they would be paid based on previous performance.
But NHS England has now said QOF income in 2020/21 will be protected ‘as necessary to respond to Covid-19’ and was unable to say whether this meant targets could be reintroduced during the course of the year.
It said further details will be released shortly and a BMA spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that it is in discussions with NHS England over QOF payments and how they will be made.
NHS England said at the end of March that QOF income for 2020/21 would be protected, leading some GPs to believe this would be the case for the duration of the year.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said at the time the approach was to ensure ‘that funding does not influence clinical decision making’.
This was followed by a letter from the BMA’s GP Committee to practices in England outlining the measures being taken during the outbreak, which stated ‘QOF income for practices for 2020/21 will be protected’.
But in a statement to Pulse this month, an NHS England spokesperson, said: ‘QOF income will be protected as necessary to respond to Covid-19 in 2020/21 and we will share further details shortly.
‘Practices should continue to provide the care rewarded by QOF where this can be delivered safely and effectively within the current environment.’
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We are in discussions with NHS England and Improvement over this. Practices should use remote consultations to complete QOF-related long term condition management where clinically appropriate, though we recognise some of this is not always possible.’
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘While GPs have innovated and adapted to new ways of working throughout the Covid crisis, we appreciate this is an uncertain time for many.
‘We are doing all we can to ensure GPs are supported and receive proper funding for the work they do and have already done this year.’
The news comes as Pulse revealed last week that the Treasury has declined to sign off a request for reimbursement for Covid-19-related costs to GP practices until NHS England can provide further evidence.