Scrap QOF and cut CQC red tape, urges RCGP blueprint for general practice

The government should ditch the QOF and remove unnecessary burdens from the CQC inspection regime to free up GP time for patients, the RCGP has said.

Dr Maureen Baker: hard-hitting proposals for general practice (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Maureen Baker: hard-hitting proposals for general practice (Photo: Pete Hill)

The college has set out its proposals to the new government in a radical new blueprint for general practice.

The wide-ranging proposals, handed to ministers following last month’s general election, set out the college’s plans to reduce the administrative burden on GPs and give them more time with patients.

The blueprint calls on government immediately to conduct a review into how red tape and unnecessary workload can be reduced.

Unnecessary GP workload

Ministers should ‘conduct an immediate review of CQC inspections and regulatory processes', the college said, 'to eliminate unnecessary burdens for general practice, and to ensure that scrutiny is focused in those areas where it is likely to have most beneficial impact’.

The government should ‘initiate discussions with the GPC to replace the QOF with a new funding arrangement’, the blueprint added, ‘that allows GPs more freedom to focus on providing the best possible holistic care to patients and eliminates unnecessary bureaucracy’.

LMC leaders last month rejected calls to scrap the QOF but passed motions criticising the scheme for failing to recognise the increasing stratification of comorbidities and patient choice. The annual conference of LMCs also voted to abolish the CQC.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said the burden of bureaucracy was taking GPs away from caring for patients.

Tick-box general practice

‘GPs are under immense pressures because of rising workloads and constrained finances yet more and more of our working hours are being taken up with form-filling, ticking boxes and preparing for practice inspections.'

CQC's chief inspector of general practice professor Steve Field said: ‘I am pleased that we continue to work closely with the RCGP, which is a key member of our Advisory Board. 

‘We will continue to work with them on the development of performance data for general practice and prompting their support of practices in special measures. We continue to look at ways to reduce the burden on GPs and have learned a lot since the pilot phases last year.

Professor Field added: ‘Nigel Sparrow’s acclaimed myth busters are part of our way of helping practices understand what is expected of them to reduce uncertainty and to help reduce the work needed to prepare for an inspection.’

What the RCGP blueprint demands from ministers:

  • Invest 11% of the NHS budget in general practice – including an emergency stabilisation fund to support practices most at risk of closure.
  • Grow the GP workforce by 8,000 – including stepping up efforts to boost GP recruitment, retain the current workforce, and make it easier for GPs to return to practice.
  • Give GPs time to focus on patient care – including a policy of testing every new NHS initiative against how it will impact on GPs’ time and workload capacity.
  • Allow GPs time to innovate – including giving practices funding to pilot the employment of pharmacists within GP teams.
  • Improve GP premises – including investing in new diagnostic technology and IT systems.

 Viewpoint: Dr Maureen Baker: Blueprint for a positive future for general practice

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