QOF will not pay GPs to cut prescribing and referrals, says GPC

GPC negotiators have insisted prescribing and referral indicators introduced in the 2011/12 GP contract will not amount to paying practices to cut referrals.

But the GPC revealed the indicators would assess whether practices had moved their prescribing and referral rates closer to national averages.

As part of the 2011/12 contract deal, 10% of QOF points will be reassigned to productivity indicators focused on reviewing referring, prescribing and emergency admissions.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said GPs will be allowed to select which areas of their prescribing and referring they review.

At the end of the financial year, GPs will be ‘judged’ on whether they have moved closer to  published national averages, said Dr Buckman.

The GPC is suggesting GPs use figures in the document Better Care, Better Value as a starting point for reviewing if their referring or prescribing is above average.

‘You look at where you are variant compared to the national average. If there is not a good reason for it, at that point, then you look at local pathways to see how you can do this better,’ said Dr Buckman.

‘You don’t have to, but we are suggesting you look at the ones mentioned in Better care, Better Value. They are the ones with most variation.

‘Work out what pathways will be best and work out how you can move your referral patterns nearer to the national average.

GPC negotiators stressed that GPs were not being paid to lower referrals.

‘You don’t have to hit a number, it’s about appropriate referrals,’ said Dr Buckman.

‘You have to justify what you are doing; it might be that what you are doing is right.

‘This isn’t some number cutting process.’

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