QOF suspension could remain in place throughout 2017/18 in Wales

GPs in Wales could be allowed to opt out of up to 75% of QOF targets in 2017/18 without losing out financially under plans being negotiated with the Welsh government.

Dr Charlotte Jones: GP contract deal
Dr Charlotte Jones: GP contract deal

Welsh government officials have also confirmed £12.7m funding to deliver a pay uplift of 1% and a general expenses uplift of 1.4%, funding for rising indemnity costs and contributions to cover the cost of a pensions administration levy, parental leave and sickness absence and a business improvement levy.

A further £13.3m will be delivered through changes to enhanced services covering care homes, warfarin management and diabetes.

The QOF deal would roll over arrangements put in place for the end of 2016/17 to ease pressure on GP practices during the winter crisis.

QOF suspension

In January, GP leaders in Wales announced that practices could drop 75% of QOF targets for the rest of the financial year. Practices are protected from losing out financially because they will be paid either on 2016/17 achievement, or based on achievement in the previous year - whichever is higher.

Welcoming the move earlier this year, GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: 'This welcome move will have a positive effect on practices by reducing bureaucracy and box ticking, as well as releasing capacity, which will enable GPs and practice nurses to focus on the complex care needs of their patients at a particularly busy time.'

GP leaders and the Welsh government are now in talks over 'whether to roll over clinical QOF for 2017/18 or to extend clinical QOF relaxation for 2017/18 with appropriate quality assurance safeguards', according to a letter to Dr Jones from the Welsh government's primary care division.

Among other outstanding issues that negotiators hope to wrap up by 31 March are plans for changes to support for GP cluster arrangments, changes to sustainability support for practices, and maternity reimbursement for locum cover in 2016/17 and earlier years.

NHS officials in England have rejected calls for a relaxation or suspension of QOF, despite similar moves going ahead across the rest of the UK. A deal agreed in Leeds to suspend the QOF to help practices cope with extra workload caused by problems with a pathology service was blocked by NHS England.

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