GPs fight off private bids to review QOF

QOF In 'safe hands' as NICE appoints GP-led consortium to pilot and assess indicators.

A team led by GP academics and the RCGP has fought off competition from private consultants to lead the review of QOF indicators for NICE.

NICE last week awarded the contract for reviewing and piloting indicators, and assessing their cost-effectiveness, to a group led by part-time GP Professor Helen Lester, deputy director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre (NDCRDC).

Professor Lester has also served as co-lead of the expert panel that has advised the GPC and NHS Employers on the QOF since its inception.

The NDCRDC bid jointly with the RCGP, and will also work alongside the University of York's Health Economics Consortium, which will concentrate on evaluating the cost-effectiveness of indicators.

Sources told GP newspaper that Professor Lester's group landed the role ahead of management consultants and international firms often used by the DoH, although no other bidders have been officially named.

Professor Lester said it was 'critical' that GPs were involved in reviewing QOF indicators. 'QOF is such an important part of what we do in primary care that not having a group grounded in primary care reviewing the indicators would feel wrong,' she said.

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said GPs were best placed to make decisions that will benefit patients and deliver effective healthcare.

'The fact that NICE has acknowledged this is a major boost for GPs and their teams,' he said.

'The profession can have real confidence that the indicators will be relevant and appropriate, and that they will be properly piloted,' he said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey also welcomed the appointment.

'Professor Lester has led the expert review panel and it is good to have that continuity,' he said. 'It will certainly help as NICE becomes involved in reviewing QOF to have the experience that Professor Lester's group brings to this.'

Meanwhile, NICE announced last week that Dr Colin Hunter has been appointed chairman of the independent QOF indicator advisory committee.

As special adviser to the GPC's quality subgroup when the GMS contract was developed, Dr Hunter was involved in the original development of QOF. He told GP newspaper he was delighted to be involved again with the review of evidence for QOF.

Dr Hunter said the new process would provide 'more objective, independent review for use in negotiation'.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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