In the updated GP contract practices could earn money from being caring towards patients, with the remit of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) reduced.
At a private roundtable discussion earlier this week, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested that in order to bring in proposed changes, such as the obligation to have a named clinician for every patient, there may have to be more “flexibility” around QOF.
The Secretary of State said the discussion could feed into the updated NHS Mandate to be released in the autumn, as well as a renegotiated GP Contract.
Tuesday’s roundtable, attended by representatives of the NHS Alliance, Queens Nursing Institute and the Nuffield Institute, aimed to explore how general practice could improve care of vulnerable older people.
The group said the idea of bringing in a ‘named clinician’ would be positive and that there are “too many targets” in QOF.
Speaking to Management in Practice, NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon, said: “There has been a real shortage in resources, and QOF actually takes up a lot of time. One of the ideas we discussed was reducing QOF and replacing it with newer ideas, like the named clinician or having general practice provide out of hours care.”
Dixon, the event’s chair said: “Practices should in fact be rewarded for being caring towards patients, not ticking boxes. We need to work out a way for out of hours care to be better connected to general practice. ”
He said there is a clear need for GPs to provide out of hours care for “their patch”, claiming that the system was far better before the 2004 GP contract took that responsibility away.
Dr Stewart Findlay, CCG lead for Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield, who attended the event said most GPs would agree they are best placed to manage their frail elderly patients.
He said: “I don’t think there’s one GP in the country that does not think care should be centred around the population list. There’s not one GP who would not want to have a closer relationship with community nursing staff.
“Previous policies aimed to remove nurses, which has resulted in a disintegration of community and primary care services in favour of integration between community nurses and social care. It’s pretty clear that we all need to be integrated together.”