All the GPs interviewed said they backed the development of benchmarks against which the quality of care could be assessed. But they identified challenges that would need to be addressed for measurable and targeted standards that are within the direct control of primary care to be developed.
A NICE spokeswoman said that any potential QOF indicators relating to children that were identified by NICE's QOF advisory committee would follow the normal QOF process.
Discussing the GPs' comments in BMC Family Practice, the researchers said: 'Quality markers are more likely to be successful in driving quality improvement, and to need less financial incentivisation, if health professionals believe that they are a fair and just indicator of the quality of their care.'
Among the indicators suggested by GPs were easy access to primary and secondary care appointments, dipstick urine tests following UTIs and development of community management pathways for mild croup.
A NICE spokeswoman pointed out that NICE’s remit is to develop clinical indicators for the QOF. Any theoretical indicators on ‘easy access to primary and secondary care appointments’ would therefore be outside of NICE’s clinical remit, she said.
However, on the principle of including indicators relating to children, she said: 'Although there are no indicators specifically focusing on children in the QOF, there are some indicators that relate to children such as ASTHMA 8 ['The percentage of patients aged 8 years and over diagnosed as having asthma from 1 April 2006 with measures of variability or reversibility'].
'QOF clinical indicators have typically related to chronic conditions, and many such conditions tend to affect mainly older people.'
'In the future the main focus for QOF indicators will be NICE quality standards and NICE accredited sources. NICE has been tasked with producing a core library of 170 quality standards. If potential QOF indicators relating to children are identified they will be developed following the normal QOF process.'