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QOF slashed by over a third in 2014/15 GP contract

15 November 2013

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The impact of the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) on practice finances will be slashed by more than a third, the updated GP contract shows. 

Announced today (15 November 2013), the changes will see many of the QOF indicators removes. 

The British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers believe reducing the number of QOF indicators will allow practice staff more time to focus on the needs of patients, reducing bureaucracy. 

More than 235 points, worth around £290 million are being made part of the core GP funding. 

A further 100 points (worth £120 million) will fund part of an enhanced service to help prevent patients being inappropriately admitted to hospital. 

The enhanced service will involve a telephone service where providers can ring GPs to decide whether or not the patient needs to be admitted. 

General practice will have to monitor the quality of out-of-hours GP services when used by their patients. 

And new IT systems will be introduced, which will allow patients to book appointments online and access their own records. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GP Committee said: “We have listened to the concerns of GPs who have been telling us that targets and box ticking were getting in the way of caring for their patients. It is therefore encouraging that we have reached an agreement that will free GPs from time-consuming bureaucracy so that they can spend more time treating their patients.

“This agreement has the potential to be good for patients and lessen the severe pressure that many GPs are facing.” 

And Royal College of General Practitioners chair Dr Clare Gerada agrees that the 2014/15 contract changes are “welcome news”. 

Dr Gerada believes reducing QOF will allow GPs to get back to their “real job” rather than just “box ticking”. 

She said: “The quality and outcomes framework has been a successful system for improving patient outcomes in general practice but red tape and misdirected financial incentives are increasingly taking priority over patients’ needs. 

“GPs need to have the time to listen to their patients, discuss the issues that are important to them, and be free to use professional judgment and medical evidence to provide the best personalised care possible according to the patient’s individual needs.”

The 2014/15 contract cements role of the GP as a “named clinician” for people aged over 75. GPs will now be accountable for ensuring proactive care is provided for patients who are at high risk of hospital admission, or those who have complex care needs. 

GPs will also have to ensure integrated and personalised care for vulnerable patients, working with health providers such as A&E, the ambulance service and care homes to ensure joined up care. 

Former GP Dame Barbara Hakin, the NHS England chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, said: “The aim is to reduce overly prescriptive bureaucracy and free up time for GPs, putting them firmly at the centre of the health and care system. With their unique knowledge and position, GPs are ideally placed to ensure patients receive one coordinated service, whatever their needs.

“We need to help GPs and give them the headroom to address these important issues for patients. The changes are a key part of the transformation that is needed to ensure we have a health and social care service that works as one around the needs of patients, providing the right care every time.”