QOF points doubled for flu and cervical smears as GPs demand COVID support

QOF points for influenza and smear targets in 2020/21 have been doubled as part of an overhaul of the incentive framework driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flu jab - QOF points updated (Photo: SDI Productions/Getty Images)
Flu jab - QOF points updated (Photo: SDI Productions/Getty Images)

The total number of QOF points on offer for GP practices will remain unchanged in 2020/21, the BMA has said - but points for influenza and cervical smears have been doubled to 58.

Points for quality improvement, prescribing indicators and maintaining disease registers - which practices are expected to continue to work on during the 2020/21 financial year - will remain unchanged at 74, 44 and 81 respectively. The remaining indicators, which will be income-protected, are worth 310 points, the BMA has said.

More detail is to be published soon on the changes - but the BMA has said that 'the vast majority of QOF' now has income protection for the rest of the year, allowing practices to 'prioritise their work based on their local circumstances as the pandemic progresses'.

GP funding

Wessex LMCs chair Dr Nigel Watson told GPonline that the targets for which points had been doubled reflected areas of key concern during the pandemic.

He pointed to evidence that cancer referrals have dropped sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer patients have come forward to seek care and highlighted the importance of this year's flu campaign in the event of a second wave of COVID-19 infection.

Prime minister Boris Johnson repeated on 17 July that this year's flu campaign would be the biggest ever - but the DHSC said details of who would be covered, and whether the campaign would be supported by a share of a £3bn NHS funding boost announced this week were still being agreed with NHS England and Public Health England.

Dr Watson warned that with practices expected to deliver an expanded vaccination campaign for flu, with extra work required for key QOF domains and workload as a whole for general practice rising fast after the first wave of the pandemic, it was vital that the government spelled out details urgently on the long-awaited COVID-19 support fund for general practice.

COVID support fund

'The big question for me is what is going to happen with the COVID support fund,' the New Forest GP said. 'We are going to need to use locums and returners to cope with workload going forward as work that had fallen off comes back and as we return to full surgeries.'

GPonline reported this week that face-to-face GP consultations have risen by 70% compared with the start of April, while clinical administrative workload is at the highest point in almost a year.

GP leaders have been demanding details of COVID support funding for primary care for months after the government promised at the start of the pandemic that the NHS would receive all the support it needed.

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