QOF will remain part of seven-day GP contract, primary care minister confirms

The QOF will not be scrapped as seven-day GP contracts are rolled out, the primary care minister has said, despite an announcement from the prime minister that much of the workload could be dropped.

Primary care minister Alistair Burt
Primary care minister Alistair Burt

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Alistair Burt confirmed that the QOF is continuing into the new voluntary seven-day contracts when they are launched in April 2017. ‘It is [continuing],' Mr Burt said. ‘But already [QOF] has been changed in response to concerns from GPs that it wasn't actually meeting the requirements.'

Mr Burt suggested that while the QOF would be adapted to make it less burdensome for practices, the work itself would continue.

‘It is essential that the quality framework captures what needs to be captured without it being too overlaid with the sort of bureaucracy that is interfering with GPs' work and getting in the way. And these are delicate balances,' the minister said.

GP bureaucracy

On Sunday the prime minister announced that the new contract for integrated practice federations would remove the bureaucratic box ticking of the 2004 GMS contract. A Downing Street statement said: ‘Micro-management of GPs’ work through the QOF and other sorts of old-fashioned bureaucracy will be scrapped, giving doctors far greater professional control.’

Mr Burt’s comments at an RCGP fringe event suggested that while some of the bureaucracy of the QOF will be cut from the new contract, the requirements to do the clinical work could stay.

‘We want to see a quality framework where GPs recognise, as all practices do, that it's in their interests,' the minister said. ‘And also, where things are discovered where improvement or weaknesses are found, that we have set aside a fund to help improve those weaknesses and deal with the problems. Because it is not a condemnatory framework, it's something designed to help and assist. That is part of future discussions and I can't see that changing.’

GPC has said that the removal of QOF box ticking should apply to all practice, not just those able to work seven days. Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘While getting rid of the box ticking of QOF is something the BMA has long been calling for, this should apply to all practices. It would be wholly wrong if this is being used as a carrot to only benefit patients for those practices considering the new GP contract.’

Photo: Wilde Fry

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