DH plans to link alcohol screening to GP pay

Practice income may be tied to screening for alcohol misuse under government plans to tackle England's alcohol crisis.

The Home Office's Alcohol Strategy was launched on Friday and aims to crack the problem of binge drinking on the nation's health. This includes introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

The strategy announced that GPs will offer alcohol identification and brief advice for alcohol-related issues through the NHS Health Checks scheme for adults aged 40-75 from April 2013.

But these activities may also be extended and linked to practice income through the QOF, according to the strategy.

The DH 'will also look at the data from the recently published Screening and Intervention Programme for Sensible Drinking research to see if it can support further action by GPs via the QOF', it says.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada appeared to back the move and said the Alcohol Strategy was 'a step in the right direction'.

'Alcohol misuse is a huge problem currently affecting our population. It is one of the biggest public health problems in the UK and is a major workload issue for general practice and the NHS.'

She added: 'Greater investment in primary care would significantly help to improve the way that the NHS deals with alcohol misuse.

'If GPs receive longer training and can spend more time with patients, they could achieve a lot more in identifying potential problems and how to prevent them, rather than dealing with the sharp end of alcohol addiction.'

The QOF for 2012/13 includes alcohol checks under indicators for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (PP2) and mental health (MH11).

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