Swine flu 'easement' deal fails to prevent patient survey losses

Low swine flu vaccination figures suggest the deal to ease practice losses in the patient survey may not be effective.

To ease pressure on practices struggling with swine flu, a deal was negotiated by the GPC to relax patient access targets for practices that vaccinate 50.7 per cent of at-risk patients.

But figures from the end of February show that in England, just 37.1 per cent of those in at-risk groups were vaccinated, with some PCTs' average uptake as low as 25 per cent.

Patient survey scores fell slightly this year for the PE7 and PE8 QOF access targets, worth £8,000 to the average practice.

Practices that achieve their swine flu target would have the upper threshold for PE7 and PE8 lowered by 10 per cent and the lower threshold by 20 per cent.

The survey in its current form was rolled out in 2008/9, and left practices with five-figure losses compared with the previous year.

GPC negotiator and GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey said fewer than 50 per cent of Welsh practices achieved easement, and a slightly lower number had done so in England.

Analysis of this year's patient survey result in England shows around 12 per cent of practices (1,032) will have scored no points on the PE7 or PE8 indicators unless they qualify for easement.

Dr Bailey said there was no guarantee that practices that most needed easement would have achieved it, and practices that performed well in the survey would not benefit much from the easement target.

Practices with both their uptake figures and patient survey score can calculate how much cash they will receive using an online calculator.

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