Local QOFs key to health inequalities inquiry

Health Select Committee chairman questions the need for a national contract when local needs are so different.

The Health Select Committee inquiry into health inequalities could result in a shake-up of primary care.

Local quality frameworks, practice-based commissioning (PBC) and Lord Darzi's plans for primary care, are key issues for Health Select Committee chairman Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley. Mr Barron hinted at a localised quality framework, saying the needs and disease burdens of South Yorkshire and Surrey, for example, are different. 'Yet GPs operate on the same contract,' he said.

'It might be the case that that's the right thing to do and that it recognises that the more people you treat with chronic illness the more you get out of the system.

'But I suppose I still put the question - why should we have national contracts for primary care when needs are different?'

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'All the clinical areas that are in the quality framework are those that affect the population as a whole.'

As well as benefiting individual patients' health, the quality framework provides important public health information, he told the committee.

Local enhanced services also allow PCTs flexibility, added Dr Vautrey. 'There's always been the opportunity for local PCTs to prioritise areas over and above the quality framework.'

Mr Barron also expects the outcome of Lord Ara Darzi's report into the NHS, due out in June, to be included in the evidence-gathering process.

Additionally, the Health Select Committee will be looking at the role of GPs in PBC.

The inquiry is expected to run at least until the end of the summer recess.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Health Inequalities Inquiry terms of reference

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