Exclusive: DoH stalls over QOF suspension

The DoH is stalling on suspending the QOF despite renewed calls from GPs to ease their workload, as the surge in swine flu cases continues.

H1N1 Photograph: spl
H1N1 Photograph: spl

GP leaders said the interim flu hotline – launching on Thursday 23 July in England – would do little to relieve pressure on GPs.

The comments came as a GP newspaper poll revealed that two thirds of GPs in flu hotspots believe the QOF should be shut down immediately.

Ian Dalton, England's director for flu resilience, this week told GP newspaper the QOF would not be suspended ‘at this stage'.

‘The flu line should reduce pressure so it is less likely the QOF will be suspended,' Mr Dalton said.

The flu line will not yet be launched in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as the virus is not as widespread as in England.

At a briefing in London last week, CMO for England Sir Liam Donaldson said the flu line had been rolled out because many practices were spending the majority of their time dealing with phone calls from patients.

‘GPs in hotspots have been completely overwhelmed. The RCGP has been pressing us to switch on these arrangements,' said Sir Liam.

The interim flu line will be staffed by 2,000 employees using a clinical algorithm developed by the BMA to diagnose swine flu and decide which patients need antivirals.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We've supported the principle of a flu line during planning for a pandemic over the past few years.

‘It's certainly helpful but I don't think it will take the pressure off GPs in any shape or form.'

Dr Vautrey said that the GPC was still calling for the QOF to be suspended. But he said questions remained over whether to suspend it nationally or locally.

Mr Dalton added that QOF suspension would be kept under review and that discussions with the BMA were ongoing.

Meanwhile, the GP newspaper poll found that almost half think it is inevitable that the QOF will be suspended nationally at some point, and only a third think practices have the resources to cope with a swine flu vaccination campaign.


  • Read this week's GP dated 24 July for the full version of this story.


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