Call for QOF to boost focus on children

The QOF should be updated to include indicators for the health and welfare of young people, a review of children's services recommends.

Professor Kennedy: review QOF
Professor Kennedy: review QOF

The review, led by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, said just four of the 128 QOF indicators refer specifically to children.

He said they should be reviewed to include a 'broad range of measures' of the health, healthcare and welfare of children and young people.

The review, Getting it right for children and young people: Overcoming cultural barriers in the NHS, also called for GP training and revalidation to include 'the comprehensive care of children and young people'.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the GPC, said the suggestion to update the QOF was a 'kneejerk reaction' that misunderstands how the GP contract operates.

He said: 'There are plenty of other ways you can support activity in this area, either through the contract or external to that, such as local enhanced services and other mechanisms.'

Meanwhile, the report said general practice should become the 'single point of access' to the NHS's services for children and young people.

As the 'hub' of the network, practices should be open 'at all times', to ensure children and young people can always be routed to the appropriate services, the report said.

Sir Ian also called for an 'information officer' at each practice or group of practices, responsible for sharing data among those in contact with children or young people.

He also said it was 'essential' for some GP practices to be located in schools and children's centres. They said these could be 'branch offices' of a larger practice.

Sir Ian's report said: 'Such developments reflect what I see as a central cultural shift: that the service comes to the user, rather than the other way around.'

But Dr Vautrey said re-locating services would 'cost a significant amount' of money and he warned it should not be at the expense of other patients.

'We need to have a holistic sense of how we deliver general practice,' he said.

'There is no point having a centre based in a school that for a large part of year is closed for holidays.

'There is a whole host of practicalities,' he added.

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