QOF plan for 2020/21 unveiled with income protection on 55% of points

GP practices will be offered income protection on just over half of the 567 QOF points available in 2020/21 under plans set out by NHS England - with points for flu and cervical screening doubled.

Practices will continue to be paid based on performance on a series of targets for flu vaccination and cervical screening, for which points have been doubled to reflect the importance attached to maintaining and restoring these services during the pandemic.

Targets for maintaining up-to-date disease registers will also continue to be paid on performance, along with indicators for prescribing and two updated quality improvement domains on early cancer diagnosis and care of patients with learning disabilities.

The flu and cervical screening targets are worth 58 points, with disease register targets worth 81, prescribing indicators 44 and the two quality improvement domains worth 37 points each. These points are worth around £50,000 to an average GP practice.

QOF targets

The remaining 310 points available this year - worth around £61,000 per average practice - will be 'subject to income protection based upon historical practice performance', the guidance says - although practices will be expected to agree a 'population stratification approach' with their local CCG.

This 'stratification' process is intended to ensure practices plan to intentify and prioritise high-risk patients for 'proactive review' - in particular patients at increased risk from COVID-19 such as those from BAME groups and the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods nationally, and patients with a history of missed reviews or poorly controlled long-term conditions.

Practices are also expected to 'commit to making referrals to existing and any new weight management programmes and support offers commissioned during the year where this is identified as a key health and wellbeing intervention in these discussions'.

The approach practices take to stratification should be confirmed in October or November via the annual GP electronic declaration, officials said.

Dispensing practices

The update on QOF points for this year came in a letter from NHS England director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani and primary care strategy and NHS contracts director Ed Waller.

The letter also sets out a revised target for dispensing practices under the dispensary services quality scheme (DSQS) for 2020/21. The DSQS 'normally requires dispensing practices to undertake medication reviews for at least 10% of their dispensing patients' - but this threshold has been reduced to 'a minimum of 7.5% this year in light of the current circumstances', the letter confirms.

Dispensing practices will also be expected to prioritise high-risk patients in the same way as practices claiming income protection on QOF points.

Confirmation of QOF plans for this year came as NHS England published the flu and pneumococcal vaccination DES specification for 2020/21, which confirms practices will receive an unchanged £10.06 per patient vaccinated, but offers little detail on plans to vaccinate a significantly expanded cohort of patients this year.

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