GP leaders hailed the deal as a significant breakthrough after a collapse in talks last year led to the damaging imposition of the 2013/14 contract.
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the deal would ‘free up GPs to spend more time focusing on treating patients, but will also mean that valuable resources will be reinvested in general practice to improve frontline care’.
More than a third of the QOF will be ditched from April 2014. A total of 238 points – worth around £290 million – will be stripped from the framework, with the funding moved into core pay.
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The move marks a major step towards achieving a long-standing GPC aim to reduce the proportion of practice funding delivered through the performance-related pay system.
A further 100 QOF points will be removed to help pay for a new enhanced service worth £162m a year for patients with complex health needs. The scheme will allow emergency services better access to GP support to help cut unnecessary admissions to hospital.
The deal struck by the GPC confirms a named accountable GP will be assigned to every person aged 75 and over to ensure they receive coordinated care. The GPC has also made a commitment that the profession will ‘monitor the quality of out-of-hours services when used by their patients’.
Dr Nagpaul also hailed an agreement to protect seniority payments for GPs currently receiving them for the next six years despite the government’s ‘determination to phase out age related pay progression across the public sector’. Savings that come from removing the payments over time will remain within GP funding.
The deal will also see ‘friends and family tests’ rolled out to practices across England from December 2014, asking patients if they would recommend their GP practice.
The deal also confirms plans to press ahead with the introduction of IT reforms to allow patients to book appointments online and access their summary care record.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The government has listened to the concerns of the BMA and reversed the adverse impact of last year’s contract changes, which resulted in the introduction of unnecessary targets and excessive paperwork, freeing up resources for GPs to use their clinical judgment, not a checklist, when treating their patients.
‘The BMA believes that through constructive talks we have reached an acceptable deal that will help to relieve workload pressures on GPs and is a first step towards enabling general practice to meet the challenges that it faces in the coming years.’
RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘This is welcome news for patients and for GPs as it will help us to get back to our real job of providing care where it is most needed, rather than more box-ticking.
‘The QOF has been a successful system for improving patient outcomes in general practice but red tape and misdirected financial incentives are increasingly taking priority over patients' needs.’
NHS England deputy chief executive Dame Barbara Hakin said: ‘The aim is to reduce overly prescriptive bureaucracy and free up time for GPs, putting them firmly at the centre of the health and care system. With their unique knowledge and position, GPs are ideally placed to ensure patients receive one coordinated service, whatever their needs.’