GPs should audit work outside QOF, says NICE chairman

GPs should consider auditing areas of their practice not covered by the QOF, NICE chairman Dr David Haslam has suggested.

Dr David Haslam: too early to judge QOF success (Photo: Pete Hill)

Dr Haslam told the National Association of Primary Care's Best Practice conference that although NICE produced many clinical audit tools, as a GP he understood doctors’ reluctance to audit everything.

But he argued that there were benefits from auditing non-QOF work.

‘There are some fears that things not in the QOF might slide down the scale of importance,’ he said.

Too early to judge QOF success

He also told the conference it was too early to judge whether the QOF had been a success.

‘The long-term effect of the QOF has still to be judged but I am sure it has made a difference to the lives of thousands of patients,’ he said.

Dr Haslam also told the conference in Birmingham that he was keen to dispel myths among some doctors about NICE guidelines.

‘When I meet people from the royal colleges they all tell me doctors think they are instructions rather than guidelines, but the clue is in the name,’ he said.

Case-by-case decisions

‘It is GPs’ job to discuss and consider with patients what treatment is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

‘But it is my view that guidelines should be followed unless there is a good reason not to, and saying that you don’t believe in guidelines is not a good reason.’

Dr Haslam said NICE was working on developing on a number of visual aids that would help patients understand risk. This should be published soon, with one on risks associated with taking statins possibly published next month.

NICE has also held talks with computer firms to discuss using IT to issue reminders to GPs.

‘My vision is that the computer would prompt the GP to think about a couple of things as they are just about to print the prescription,’ he said.

‘These are not templates to follow, but suggestions that the GP may or may not want to follow’.

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