Report hands QOF top marks on effectiveness

The QOF is among the most effective tools for improving health, according to Health England.

QOF is one of the most effective ways of incentivising changes in health behaviour, according to a report published last week.

Health secretary Alan Johnson cited the report in a recent speech on public health. He said the government was considering the appropriate place for legislation and incentives in tackling public health issues.

The report, by Health England, the body set up to implement the recommendations of the DoH's White Paper Our health, our care, our say, looked at incentives for preventive public health schemes.

It gave QOF the highest possible score for effectiveness, and found it scored well on most of the criteria assessed, including effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and impact on equity and autonomy.

It scored less well however, on feasibility, because of the challenges of introducing new indicators into the framework.

Health England suggests that indicators for preventive care, such as risk assessment and primary prevention, could be added to the QOF.

It also suggests giving increased weight to prevalence, in order to encourage the registration of hard-to-reach groups.

Professor Helen Lester, a GP and DoH QOF adviser, said preventive care indicators were already included in the QOF and more were due to be added.

She said that it was important to take a long-term view of the impact of potential new indicators.

The report also stressed the importance of ensuring that PCT funding for public health schemes is ring-fenced. If the allocation were not ring-fenced there would be 'no guarantee that the extra resources would be spent on preventive care' it said.

In his speech, Mr Johnson said that he was keen to examine the 'future of public health policy'. He wanted to identify where information and campaigning can work, and to identify when incentives, legislation or regulation may be more effective.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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