Exclusive: Quality framework changes 'very difficult', warns NICE advisor

DoH plans to shift the focus of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) from processes to patient outcomes will prove 'very difficult' to achieve, a senior NICE adviser has warned.

Dr Hunter: difficulty to identify outcomes (Photograph: Solent News)
Dr Hunter: difficulty to identify outcomes (Photograph: Solent News)

Dr Colin Hunter, chairman of NICE’s QOF Indicator Advisory Committee, said that the move to outcome measures was likely to represent the future of the framework.

But he warned of the difficulties involved in realising this goal. ‘In principle, the focus on outcomes would appear to be the direction of travel. The difficulty is getting appropriate outcome measures that work and deliver,’ he said.

Indicators must produce a definitive outcome within a year or two to be feasible, said Dr Hunter. 'It's actually very difficult to identify [these outcomes].'

But he said that any difficulties in defining outcomes measures should not block the development of QOF in this direction.

Before the election, the Conservatives pledged to ‘unpick’ the QOF, with a greater emphasis on outcomes over process.

Plans are likely to be outlined later this year when changes to the GP contract are announced.

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