Practices could be stripped of public health aspects of GP contract

Practices could be stripped of childhood immunisations, contraceptive services, cervical cancer screening and child health surveillance under DoH plans to make commissioning these services more flexible.

A DoH consultation on how public health services are commissioned and funded also sets out details of plans to target 15% of QOF cash at ‘evidence-based public health and primary prevention indicators’.

The consultation says that practices will remain preferred providers for public health services such as immunisations for now. But it adds: ‘There may be a case for Public Health England and local authorities in the future to have greater flexibility to choose how such services are commissioned.’

Plans set out in the DoH’s recent White Paper on public health suggested that 15% of QOF income would be targeted at public health. The new consultation reveals that this cash will be held within the public health budget controlled by Public Health England, and used to replace ‘indicators that are less effective with indicators that will have a greater impact on improving patients’ health and preventing disease’, the consultation says.

‘From 2013, it will become the responsibility of Public Health England, in consultation with the devolved administrations, to decide on the level of investment in QOF public health primary prevention indicators, based on priorities for improving people’s health and reducing inequalities,’ the consultation states.

The government says it is ‘committed to maintaining an independent and transparent process for consulting on and recommending indicators for the QOF’, adding that Public Health England will work with NICE to review and develop public health indicators that could be added to the framework.

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