Revamped QOF to rate GPs on understanding patients

The QOF will be 'enhanced' to encourage greater patient engagement, according to health minister Lord Howe.

Lord Howe: looking at ways to build patient engagement into the QOF (Photograph: A Deverill)

Giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Primary Care in London last week, Lord Howe said work was underway to 'encourage GPs to engage with patients and better understand their needs'.

'We are looking at ways in which patient engagement can be built into the QOF to get GPs into the right habits.

'Consortia will also have a duty to involve their patients and the public. It will harness the knowledge of patients in the design of services,' he said.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey called for more detail and said it was unclear how such a change to QOF would work.

He warned that it would prove difficult to quantify and measure how well a GP interacts with and listens to patients. 'That is perhaps why we haven't seen anything like this in the contract so far,' he said.

'There are discussions within contract negotiations about contract changes this year, but there hasn't been discussion about this. It is perhaps an aspiration the DoH is working towards. We've always been keen to promote patient participation and it is a key element of the White Paper.'

Lord Howe was giving evidence to the APPG on how the White Paper would empower patients. He told MPs that a combination of financial incentives and tools, such as telecare, would help GPs actively find the most patients and address their health needs.

Defending the pace of the White Paper reforms, the peer acknowledged the DoH had 'set itself a challenge,' and said if PCTs were abolished over a longer period of time staff would become 'disenchanted' and leave.

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