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QOF Fever – a seasonal disease?

30 March 2009

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Practice Manager
Morningside Medical Practice

Practice Development Facilitator
South Central Edinburgh
Local Healthcare Partnership

Anne has worked in general practice since 1985, and in practice management since the last “new contract”. Over this time she has picked up an AMSPAR Diploma, an MBA and the Prince 2 foundation course in project management. Outside of work, Anne goes to the gym and attends a weekly French class. She has two grown-up daughters, who act as her own personal Trinny and Susannah

Are you aware of QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework) Fever, a relatively new condition? First recognised four years ago, it has reappeared in doctors’ surgeries every year since. The first signs of this illness appear mid-January and rise to a crescendo by the end of February and into the first two weeks of March.

It is most prevalent (note – use of this word within earshot of the sufferer is likely to exacerbate the condition!) in GPs, particularly those with responsibilities for any of the clinical areas of the QOF, and any poor, unfortunate staff working with these individuals. It is less frequently seen in practice managers.
The condition has been described as follows:

Symptoms: Running around in circles, clutching large amounts of paper detailing percentage figures and long lists of patient names, attempting to tear hair out, talking loudly to oneself – with particular use of phrases such as: “But I thought this had been done!”; “We are NOT going to get caught out like this again next year”, or the utterance most often reported: “Why was I not told?” The sufferer is also likely to be continually bad-tempered and displaying less-than-optimum interpersonal skills.

Diagnosis: Obviously, an annual dose of the aforementioned fever. Anecdotally, it seems that individuals who do not listen to colleagues for the other 10 and a half months of the year, are completely disorganised and file all primary care trust/health board letters in random piles under the desk are most susceptible.

Treatment: The condition responds best to patient, frequent reassurance that all is well. Phrases such as  “it is sorted”, “the practice nurse has seen all our asthmatics – and given them flu vacs” and “I’ve already done it” should be administered as required – which will be very often. Regrettably, the best member of the primary healthcare team to deliver this treatment is – yes, that’s right – the practice manager.

The use of violence has been suggested in the past as an alternative, homeopathic remedy. Sadly, this is something of an old wives’ tale, since it helps for only a short period of time and is also an unusual, but very definite, way of giving the practice notice of your intention to resign.

All symptoms abate by 1 April, when it all becomes academic for another year. The mutterings about doing things differently, expressed continuously over the previous few weeks, are forgotten about – and no amount of reminding, cajoling or bullying will bring back any recollection.

It is hoped that medical research will quickly discover a vaccine for QOF Fever – which we could then administer to all staff with 10 points for 100% uptake!

Roll on April Fools’ Day.