Sources suggest the GP contract negotiations between the British Medical Association (BMA) and the government could see the contribution of the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) to practice finances slashed by 20%.
But according to NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon, the government should instead be aiming for a QOF cut of 50% to allow general practitioners to spend far more time in their newly enshrined role as named clincians.
Speaking at the Management in Practice event in London, Dr Dixon said cutting QOF would be “real emancipation” for practices.
“I fear the government may not be as ambitious as I might be, which would be to cut it by 50%,” he said.
“It’s no secret that QOF is going to be reduced. [And] the reduction in QOF gives us the potential to develop our remit in terms of services in health far beyond what we’ve ever been able to do before.”
Dr Dixon did note that many general practitioners and practice managers are afraid that reducing QOF would essentially mean a cut in budget.
But he said the atmosphere at the Department of Health suggests that there is a real determination to keep what’s in the baseline.
Two possible options for maintaining the amount of money available would be for QOF points to go into the baseline payment for general practice but for the contract to change, making GPs accountable for frail elderly patients.
Or the money taken away in QOF points could be made available if GPs look after frail elderly patients.
Dr Dixon said he “suspects” that is what’s being negotiated between the BMA and the government.
“We don’t know exactly how it will work at the moment, but I think the determination is that it should be easily achievable and that all good general practices should get the full payment,” he said.