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by Liz Saunders
27 April 2009

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Taking time to plan ahead can act as QOF medicine

I received my copy of the latest Management in Practice magazine last week and decided to take it with me to the Gower coast in South Wales. I am so glad I did!

Now, I am not a workaholic as some might assume, but I did enjoy the articles regarding chasing the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) points and “QOF Fever”, and the editor’s comment about spending time on reception.

The last 12 weeks have been pretty hectic at my surgery, with all the clinicians doing their bit for the QOF. We have achieved once again this year. Our local health board (LHB) has had everything they require as well but, as usual, seem to leave everything until the last minute, which just adds to the enormous pressures that we face in general practice.

However, I have some sympathy for the LHB, as they are to undergo major restructuring this year and despite a promise that there will be no job losses, in today’s climate they must nonetheless be concerned for their posts.

I then received a text message from a colleague to say we were all going to the Birmingham Management in Practice Event in October, and there was no way I was being left out! They have booked on my behalf, as even though I have broadband I am not able to use it at my holiday venue. This is not such a bad thing, though, as it means I have a chance to wind down.

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The MiP Events have always proved useful and informative and an excellent source of information and support. I am a great advocate of networking, and these events are an opportunity to catch up with colleagues who are usually extremely busy.

So as I sit here in the sunshine, admiring a fabulous view across the bay, I would advise all of you who have had a dose of “QOF Fever” to take some time out for a little R&R as well as planning the coming year’s priorities and gearing up for the challenges ahead.

We are not out of the woods yet. Our economic climate is not yet steady, and a tough year is promised. This will increase the practice workload, as patients who are losing their jobs and livelihoods turn to the medical profession for help and support. It is my opinion that we will be extremely busy in 2009/10, and if we plan accordingly it will be easier to manage the workload.

Of course, we can’t plan for every eventuality, but remembering to factor in the likely “what ifs” will help the smooth running of the systems and processes. Talk to your primary care organisations and peer groups – what are they planning for/expecting in 2009/10? Share ideas and experiences, but don’t reinvent the wheel if all it needs is a new tyre! I am a great believer in the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

I hope to see and meet with you at the October Event, by which time we may be showing symptoms of QOF Fever again – oh, bring on the vaccine!

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