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GP practices to deliver ‘major expansion’ of flu scheme as parts of QOF restored

by Jaimie Kaffash
10 July 2020

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GP practices have been told to ‘gear up for a major expansion of the winter flu programme’ as part of the QOF for 2020/21, as well as focus on restoring care for early cancer diagnosis and people with learning disabilities.

NHS England announced last night that the QOF wasn’t going to be restored in full yet for 2020/21, but would be brought back for 2021/22 under current plans.

But it said practices would be expected to maintain accurate disease registers, prescribing indicators and the delivery of cervical screening indicators, but acknowledged that they would have to make extra efforts to deliver this at the same levels.

It said that income in all the other domains would remain protected – subject to ‘simplified requirements’ to protect patients most at risk of Covid-19.

Pulse exclusively revealed yesterday that QOF reporting around flu was set to be restored, and a circular from NHS England confirmed that they are in talks with the BMA’s GP Committee around what this would entail, with details set to be released in the coming weeks.

QOF recording has been suspended since March, when practices were told they would be paid for 2019/20 based on previous performance.

In June, Pulse revealed that the BMA was ‘in talks’ around the future of QOF payments for the remainder of 2020/21, indicating that the payments may not be protected as some GPs believe.

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The document sent out last night, titled ‘Second phase of General Practice response to COVID-19 update to GP contracts and income protection arrangements’, provided more detail on the direction of the QOF this year.

The document, written by NHS England primary care director Dr Nikita Kanani and primary care strategy and contracts director Ed Waller, said: ‘In 2020/21, we are proposing that practices will be asked to gear up for a major expansion of the winter flu programme. We are discussing this with the GPC and further information will follow in the coming weeks.’

It also said that the ‘quality improvement domains’ of early cancer diagnosis and care of people with a learning disability will be reintroduced, but ‘recast to focus upon restoring care delivery in these two key areas’. The details are still being worked through with the GPC, they said.

NHS England said practices will be ‘asked to maintain accurate disease registers, prescribing indicators and the delivery of cervical screening indicators, where we expect the rate of delivery to be as close as possible to normal performance’.

The letter said: ‘[Practices will be] offered income protection on other indicators, subject to the delivery of revised and simplified requirements focused upon care delivery to those patients at greatest risk of harm from Covid-19, uncontrolled long term condition parameters and those with a history of missing reviews.

‘These are being discussed with GPC and published shortly. Practices will need to agree their approach to patient prioritisation and service delivery with their CCG.’

More to follow

This article first appeared on Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse.