QOF changes to be made every year

QOF Government backtracks on local QOFs but leaves door open for their introduction.

QOF will be subject to annual changes when NICE takes over the review of indicators next week.

Responding to the consultation on changes to how indicators are assessed, the government said that recommendations for indicators to be retired and added would be made once a year.

The final choice of indicators will remain a matter for consultation between NHS Employers and the GPC, however, and the government said there may be a case for moving to two-yearly review at a later date.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said 'constant chopping and changing' would make life difficult for GPs.

'Change no more than every two years would seem sensible,' he said.

'The idea of annual iterations just leaves people with their heads spinning. The sooner we have stability, the better for patients and GPs.'

However, Dr Vautrey welcomed the fact that the government had 'backtracked' over proposals to use national funds to support local QOFs, which the GPC opposed.

The government says that it will keep 'under careful review' the balance between local and national investment. It has suggested that indicators reviewed by NICE but not selected for national uptake could be used by primary care organisations to tackle local health inequalities.

Dr Vautrey said: 'While it still leaves the door open to the possibility of local QOFs it is not talking about taking money away from QOF, it is talking about a local library of indicators that PCTs could take from.'

The government is also to go ahead with plans to cease QOF payments for activity now embedded in practice.

In the next few weeks NICE will publish an interim guide, setting out how it is to develop a menu of indicators. The first set of potential new indicators for 2011/12 are expected to be published in the summer.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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