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QOF should be scrapped but metrics retained, says former health secretary

27 April 2022

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The QOF should be scrapped, however the metrics should still be measured, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told Pulse Live recently.

The chair of the House of Commons health committee made the comments during his keynote interview at Management in Practice’s sister title Pulse’s flagship conference, held in April in London.

He said that ‘we should look at scrapping QOF’ and there should be ‘freedom and flexibility’ about how money is spent in general practice.

He told GPs: ‘I think we should still measure all of the things that we measure in QOF, and be completely transparent about what proportion of patients are getting their diabetes tests and so on.

‘But we should look at replacing it with [contracts] which basically say that based on people’s availability and in regards to social deprivation, you might get £500 pounds a year for everyone between 80 and 90 and £7 a year for everyone under 14, whatever it is.’

He added: ‘Just try to give people sums of money and then give them the freedom and flexibility and then be completely transparent about the metrics that matter to the NHS.’ 

Pulse revealed this month that stricter QOF thresholds will see a number of GP practices lose tens of thousands in income from child immunisations – including one practice set to lose £66,000.

During an evidence session in March for the health and social care committee’s inquiry into the future of general practice, inquiry leader Mr Hunt asked RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall if it was ‘time to scrap QOF’, to which Professor Marshall said: ‘Yes, from a college perspective, I think we should.’

Professor Marshall added at the time that the current system ‘doesn’t make sense whatsoever’.

Mr Hunt previously expressed a wish to scrap QOF back in 2014 at an NHS Clinical Commissioners conference. However, the framework was still in place when his tenure as health secretary came to an end in 2018.

Parts of QOF and the IIF were suspended and income-protected until this month to free up GP capacity for delivery of the expanded Covid booster programme.

It comes as Mr Hunt and the BMA have joined forces to launch a new campaign titled ‘Rebuild General Practice’.

Speaking at a launch event for the campaign in March, the former health secretary said the ‘Uberisation’ of general practice – with continuity being lost in favour of convenience – is the wrong way to go and will harm patient safety and care.

This story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.