UK Changes GP Quality Incentive Scheme
Delivering the best possible care for patients will be at the heart of changes to the GP quality incentive scheme, the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), Health Minister Ben Bradshaw announced today.
Following a 13-week consultation with the NHS and stakeholders, from 1 April 2009 the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) will oversee the annual process of reviewing the clinical indicators included in QOF. The consultation sought views from clinicians, patient organisations, NHS commissioners and the public.
Using its experience in providing independent clinical advice, NICE will now review the benefits to patients and the cost effectiveness of the indicators used to assess the quality of care provided by GP practices. NICE will be responsible for developing a more transparent and inclusive process for setting priorities with input from patients and carers, primary care professionals and other stakeholders.
The final choice of QOF indicators will remain a matter for negotiation between the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers, based on the advice produced by NICE. QOF supports the work of other schemes for improving healthcare such as extended opening hours which means patients now have access to a GP at evenings and weekends.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said:
The UK leads the world in providing incentives to GPs to improve the quality of patient care. We have come a long way in addressing health problems thanks to the current scheme.
"We want to ensure that GP practices continue to deliver more improvements to patient care, and are better supported in keeping patients healthy.
"It is important that the scheme continues to provide the best health outcomes and value for money for patients. Asking NICE to lead this new process for prioritising and reviewing indicators will ensure the system is constantly updated to meet changing health needs."
The QOF rewards GP practices for managing some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart failure; improving health; organising practices well; how patients view their experience at the surgery and the quality of extra services offered such as child health and maternity services. A commitment was made in High Quality Care for All, Lord Darzi's review of the NHS, to develop a new, independent and transparent process for prioritising and reviewing QOF to ensure it continues to support GPs in delivering the best possible care for patients.