RCGP criticises QOF tick-box 'hysteria'

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada has criticised the QOF for creating tick-box 'hysteria' among GPs at the expense of community health.

Dr Gerada: QOF needs to incentivise GPs to work with the community
Dr Gerada: QOF needs to incentivise GPs to work with the community

Dr Gerada said the QOF 'focuses GPs into the consultation room and not outwards into the community'.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum conference on health inequalities in London last week, Dr Gerada said busy GPs in deprived areas of the capital spend a small fraction of their time in the community.

Dr Gerada said after the event: 'We need to re-engage the profession in why it went into general practice, which is to look after the community's health.'

She said the QOF needed to be more 'aspirationally determined' to incentivise GPs to improve the health of the whole community.

'It's about having an element in the QOF that is based on the health needs of the population and not just about medical intervention,' she said.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey rejected the idea. 'QOF works well because it is focused on evidence-based interventions that GPs and their teams can make, and which will make a difference to their patients,' he said. 'This is what it must continue to do.'

From 2013, 15 per cent of QOF funding will be assigned to public health and primary prevention indicators under plans outlined in the public health White Paper. Ministers also wish to shift the focus of the QOF from processes to measurable patient outcomes.

Experts at the conference agreed primary care should play a larger part in improving health inequalities.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, whose report Fair Society, Healthy Lives informed the White Paper, said: 'If we put fairness at the heart of society, health inequalities will improve.'

North London GP Dr Patrick Hutt said there was 'huge potential' for GPs to improve public health.

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