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The QOF is one target that truly benefits patients, says BMA

19 November 2008

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The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) is one government target that has brought real benefit to patients across the UK, the British Medical Association (BMA) said today (Wednesday 19 November 2008).

Responding to a report from Civitas, which claims the QOF offers inappropriate financial incentives, Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: “It is very disappointing that this document is short on evidence and long on opinion about one aspect of the GP contract that has brought real benefit to patients.

“A lot of government health targets have distorted clinical care – the 48-hour access target, for example, doesn’t allow doctors to prioritise their patients on the basis of need.

“Yet the QOF is different. It was never intended as just an incentive payment; its introduction marked a huge step forward in the government’s promise to address health inequalities across the UK. Unlike other government targets, it was developed in close partnership with the profession, together with experts and the involvement of patient groups.”

Dr Buckman said that the QOF means that patients in the very early stages of deadly diseases are actively sought out and their conditions are managed systematically.

“Over the long-term, the QOF will save many lives and it means patients can be confident that they will get the same consistent, evidence-based care wherever they live in the UK,” Dr Buckman said.

In response to claims within the report that GPs have been ‘gaming’, Dr Buckman added:

“There is no published evidence that some practices have inappropriately excluded patients or have adjusted the reported prevalence of disease, Dr Buckman said: “The statistics on exception reporting, which this refers to, show it is the lowest it has ever been. The assertions in this report are based on anecdotes that are without evidence.”